Once in a while you find there's little you could do to save a plate of food from being ugly. You composed it with pretty things: bright green butter lettuce, blushing watermelon radish, slivers of red chili, a beautiful piece of skirt steak--sometimes I can hardly think of anything prettier than a perfectly grilled steak. You dressed it up in a gorgeous Celadon plate made by hand by a talented friend. You tried pretty much anything but the upskirt shot and the pictures still came out looking positively ugly. The homeliness of this plate of salad was rather confounding, especially considering how delightfully delicious it was, as evident by the five minutes flat it took for you know who to polished off his first serving.
Despite it all, this ugly salad is something I do quite often when I want something quick and light for supper. It's a vaguely Thai salad, with a dressing made with lime juice, fish sauce, chili powder, sliced shallots, mint, and cilantro, with an added (and indispensable) nuttiness from roasted rice ground into powder. In Thailand, the grilled beef "salad" is a mostly protein affair, with grilled beef slices tossed with the super spicy dressing and served with fresh vegetables and steamed sticky rice on the side as respite from bites of the spicy salad.