I may have eaten one too many barbecued sausage over the Christmas break because since coming home I've been felt like cooking anything but barbecued food. I've been making lots of curries, with loads of fresh garlic, ginger and whole spices and tonight, for a change from barbecued food and curries, I made this chilli-spiked, salty-sweet Asian-style chicken salad. It's inspired by this recipe here from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty and a recipe from Oamaru's Riverstone Kitchen that was in this week's Sunday Star Times.
I know the ingredient list below is a reasonably long one but you're missing something just swap it for something else or leave it out. It's more a list of suggestions than a recipe. I used iceberg lettuce because I love its refreshing crispness but finely sliced cabbage, baby spinach or any other salad green will work just as well as iceberg. The pineapple could be swapped for mango or left out altogether if you don't like the meat-with-fruit combo. Similarly, cashews or plain peanuts would also be delicious instead of honey roasted ones. Or if you're feeling extravagant make the caramelised macadamia nuts in the Ottolenghi recipe linked above. They are truly delicious so make enough to nibble a few while you cook.
Asian-style chicken salad
2 chicken breasts
400ml can coconut milk
2 pinches chilli flakes
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1tsp flaky sea salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tsp fish sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 capsicum, deseeded and thinly sliced
1/2 pineapple sliced into thin batons (or a finely sliced mango if available/affordable)
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts, finely chopped
4 tablespoons crispy shallots
Place the coconut milk and chicken breasts in a saucepan, bring to a simmer and simmer for 8-12 minutes - until chicken is cooked all the way through (if your chicken breasts are fat ones allow more time). Leave the chicken to cool in the coconut milk. Once cool, shred and place in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
Bring the coconut milk to the boil and add the salt, chilli flakes, garlic and sugar. Simmer for a minute or so to dissolve the sugar then remove from heat and add the lemon juice and fish sauce. Pour a few tablespoons of the dressing over the chicken and set the rest aside to cool.
While the dressing is cooling prepare the salad ingredients and place in a large bowl. When ready to serve, add the chicken and an extra 1/2 cup of the coconut milk dressing and mix. Serve topped with the fried shallots and peanuts.
Serve with rice noodles or plain steamed rice and extra dressing on the side.
This recipe makes enough for four people. Adjust the quantities as required.