Sour Rice Salad

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  1. Thinly slice the shallots from the salad ingredients list and drop them in a small pan of vegetable oil heated to medium.
  2. Fry till light brown—careful here, they'll go from golden to overdone in the blink of an eye—remove from the pan, and drain on paper towel.
  3. Set aside.
  4. Make the dressing: in a mortar and pestle, pound the shrimp to a pulp.
  5. Add and pound together the shallots, garlic, and chile peppers, if using.
  6. Add the belacan and pound it as well, then the tomatoes/tomato wedge.
  7. Mix in lime juice, and add the fish sauce, ½ tbsp at a time; taste dressing after the first ½ tbsp, you may not want to add the other.
  8. Add black pepper to taste and try the dressing again—more kalamansi juice will be in order if your tomatoes were exceptionally sweet, or if you're after a real pucker.
  9. Pick leaves from mint and basil sprigs, and chop these very finely together with the coriander.
  10. Pick the leaves from the daun kesom stem and chop a bit less finely.
  11. Remove the hard outer layers from the lemongrass stalks, quarter them lengthwise, and slice thinly.
  12. Mix rice and dressing, then add torch ginger, coriander-mint-basil, daun kesom, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and sour spinach or sorrel and mix again.
  13. Allow the rice to stand and absorb the flavors of the herbs and the dressing for about ½ hour.
  14. Serve topped with fried shallots.