Chicken Salad (Thai)

12 Jul

Inspired by the flavours of Thailand this light refreshing salad is superbly tangy, satisfying and perfect for hot summer days. It is quick to prepare and very easy to adapt to whatever is freshest in the garden or what you have available. This one uses mint, spring onions, Chinese chives, summer lettuces and the first peppers of the season but you can use whatever you like. You can also make this dish as spicy as you like, the first heat comes from the cracked black pepper but you can add as much red chilli as you are game for. I find the hotter the weather the more heat I want in my food.

Serves 4 Prep 10 Cook 5mins
Hot topping
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Peanut oil
1 tsp cracked black pepper
500g chicken breast (1 per person), finely chopped
1 tbsp soya sauce
Green Herb Mix
4 tbsp Chinese chives* or chives
1 bunch of Spring Onions, finely sliced
1 large green or yellow pepper, finely sliced
Large handful tender mint leaves
Large handfull thai basil (optional)
Salad bed
Large handfull mung bean sprouts (optional)
1 small crisp lettuce head per person*
Dressing
3 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar dissolved in 1 tbsp water
1-3 small red chilli de-seeded and minced (optional)
1 clove garlic crushed (optional)

Wash, dry and separate the lettuce leaves and make a layer in the bottom of each persons plate or bowl, tearing the lettuce into bite size pieces as you go, add the bean sprouts if using.
Mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jug and set aside.
Chop the chicken breast into small pieces, the size of a thumb nail and sprinkle with black pepper. Fry in hot oil for 3-5 mins until slightly browned and just cooked through, remove from the heat, add the soy sauce and set aside to cool slightly.
While the chicken is cooling prep the green herb mix, snip or chop the chives into small pieces, slice the spring onions in to fine rounds, half and de-seed the pepper and slice very thinly, tear the mint leaves from the stems, tear the basil and add the whole lot to the fried chicken giving it a good mix. Pour over the dressing and give it another good stir.
Pile this mixture over the bed of lettuce to serve.

Variations Add mung bean sprouts, grated carrot, grated courgettes, alfalfa sprouts, sliced cucumber, mangetout or mizuna leaves to the salad ingredients. Add 1 clove crushed garlic to the dressing. Serve with a sprinkling of crushed roasted peanuts, roasted shoyu pumpkin seeds, or deep fried crispy onions on top.

Gardeners Tip Chinese chives (Allium tuberosum) or Garlic chives are a close relative of ordinary chives, and can be treated in the same way but the taste is far superior with a pleasantly sweet garlic flavour. Perennial aromatic plant i would recommend anyone to grow, it can even be grown in pots. Sow or divide spring or autumn.
12/7/2006

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