Above: The fried egg salad at Cool Basil delights adventurous diners with its combination of enticing ingredients.
By Wini Moranville
“It’s magnificent!” my friend said as she tasted, for the first time, the insanely good fried egg salad at Cool Basil. But before you take our word for it, let me warn you: This salad is not for everybody. I’ve also lunched with less-adventuresome diners for whom the dish fell flat. It’s one of those things, like smelly cheeses or fresh anchovies, that you’ll either love or hate.
Me, I’m crazy about it. The dish brings cool lettuce, cabbage and shredded carrots alongside a mixture of red onions, green onions, tomatoes, cilantro and strips of warm fried egg.
What sends this salad over the moon (for some) are the eggs and the dressing. The eggs are lightly scrambled — you still see swirls of sunny yellow and creamy white; then, they’re fried in enough oil to make them lightly crisp on the outside, while fluffy on the inside. For the dressing the kitchen stirs together lime juice, ground chiles, palm sugar and fish sauce; the latter, with its salty fermented-fish flavor, is where the salad might lose a few fans. But if you, like me, find yourself digging in for more whenever flavors get a little bit funky, you’ll enjoy it.
We also ordered the larb, a salad of ground meat (our choice was pork) along with the same overall spicy-sour-salty-fermented flavors above, but with a bonus of fresh mint leaves. The mixture comes alongside iceberg lettuce leaves for wrapping. Sound familiar? Yes, the dish resembles P.F. Chang’s famed lettuce wraps, only enticingly more intriguing.
Cool Basil is at 1250 86th St, Clive; 515-225-8111; coolbasilcliveiowa.com.
Wini Moranville covers food and dining for dsm. Follow her at All Things Food – DSM Wini Moranville.