The salads are often the most interesting part of a Thai menu – often spicy and almost always full of flavour, a good Thai salad should be anything but an afterthought. And it’s with that attitude that Duncan Ly and his team at Foreign Concept set out to create one of their restaurant’s signature dishes, the butternut squash and papaya slaw.
Versions of the slaw appear on both Foreign Concept’s lunch and dinner menus. A riff on a traditional Thai papaya slaw, this salad falls in line with FC’s alternative Asian dining concept in that it takes a traditional recipe that you’ll find in a typical Thai restaurant and gives it a distinctively Canadian spin. Made with sweet julienned papaya and mango, Ly’s special surprise ingredient is crunchy butternut squash.
“When people come to Foreign Concept we want people to be order dishes that are familiar to them, but have that little twist to it,” Ly says. “The butternut squash ties in that Canadian element.”
Of course, the dressing is absolutely key in any salad and this slaw is tossed with a Thai-inspired combination of fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, chili paste and a little bit of palm sugar. All together you get a nice balance of acidity and just a touch of spiciness.
Ly says that as a chef, he likes this salad because of its versatility: the basic fruit and squash combo can be dressed up with anything from seasonal veg like kohlrabi or watermelon radishes to fancy chef touches like salmon floss. Lunchtime guests can make a meal out of it by throwing in some prawns, chicken or hangar steak into the mix and the Foreign Concept kitchen is constantly tweaking it to use seasonal produce and to keep things interesting for both the chefs and repeat diners.
Foreign Concepts’s papaya slaw costs $11 at lunchtime (with an additional charge for added protein) with the dinner version going for $12.
1011 1 St S.W., 403-719-7288, foreignconcept.ca