his recipe was required on a warm summer evening when a healthy dinner was the priority but sustenance was a must. I took inspiration for this from one of the simplest and freshest salads I greedily devoured at an Asian supper club I went to last year. If you haven’t been to or heard of Uyen Luu and her culinary adventures then I highly encourage you to head over to her website (see here). But not yet…read my blog post and cook this recipe first!
This recipe is all about the freshness, variety and abundance of herbs – these are vital and will either make or break the dish. Uyen’s version is far cleaner, using poached chicken that she shreds and stirs throughout the salad. This is ideal as a fresh starter but my hunger and craving demanded something crispier and oiler so I opted to fry my tender succulent chicken strips. I also opted for a punchier dressing, using lime, sesame and soy, than Uyen’s simpler version but both are eqaully as delicious.
One thing we do share is the need for prawn crackers here. Personally if you can’t get hold of the big, golden ones they offer in the best Thai restaurants, then the cheaper the better! And I suggest you buy 2 bags as if you’re anything like me the first bag gets demolished during cooking.
Tip – If you really want to make this salad to its best (and generally for a must-have in the any keen cooks kitchen pantry) then I strongly recommend you buy a julienne peeler noted below. They might occasionally shave your fingers off (beware – they’re sharp!) but hey…its worth it for such a great salad.
- 2 chicken breast, cut into thin strips
- 2 carrots
- 2 courgettes
- Large bunch basil, leaves picked
- Large bunch mint, leaves picked
- Large bunch coriander
- Large handful salted, roasted peanuts, lightly crushed.
- Prawn crackers to serve
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 3 tbsp cider vinegar
- 3 tsp caster sugar
- Salt and pepper
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 large red chilli, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tsp runny honey
- Start with the onions. Combine the vinegar and sugar in a shallow bowl and add the sliced onion. Season, combine and set aside for 20-30 minutes.
- To make the dressing, combine the ingredients in a jam jar and shake well. Taste. This is vital as everyones soy sauce is different (low salt, normal, high quality, low quality etc) so all dressings will taste different. Add more lime/soy/fish sauce to taste. Don’t be afraid to go punchy as it will need to told its own when applied to the salad.
- Make the salad. (Using a julienne peeler will give you the best results here (see here), but if you’re patient, then you can very very finely slice the carrots and courgettes into strips. Alternatively, you could use a courgetti machine but it won’t give you quite what you want here.) Julienne the carrots and courgettes into a large bowl. Chop the herbs roughly together and add 3/4 of them to the bowl. Add the roasted, chopped peanuts.
- Drain the onions after 20-30 minutes of steeping and add all but a handful of these to the salad. Mix all to combine well and set aside while you cook the chicken.
- Heat a frying pan until hot and add a splash of vegetable/sunflower oil. Season the chicken strips and fry on a high heat until just cooked and golden but still moist.
- Remove from the heat and use forks to pull the chicken into strips.
- Dress the salad quickly with the dressing.
- Divide the salad between two bowls and top with the succulent chicken (or you can stir the chicken throughout the salad). Scatter over the raminaing handful of red onions and herbs.
- Serve with prawn crackers and devour with chop sticks.