Date Archives May 2018

Vietnamese Chicken Salad


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.

Serves 2


  • 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

Picked Onions

  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Remove from the heat and use forks to pull the chicken into strips.
  7. Dress the salad quickly with the dressing.
  8. 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.
  9. Serve with prawn crackers and devour with chop sticks.


Roasted Indian Chicken Curry


oasting (especially if done slowly) always brings out a flavour that can’t be beaten by quick or lazy cooking. Combining amazing spices, some ginger heat and of course some coconut milk and popping this in a hot oven care free was the ideal way to focus my time, attention and love on a juicy glass (ahem…shared bottle) of Syrah from South Africa (see foot note). I’d recommend cooking this on a Sunday if you fancy a change from a roast but with all the depth of flavour. Feel free to experiment with different spices, cuts of meat or side dishes. My nigella seed flatbreads dipped in mango chutney would work a treat. This is also a very mild curry (note, no chilli) so don’t expect to be punched by heat! But do add accordingly if that’s how you want your Sunday evening.

TIP: This can by all means be made simply roasted in tray from start to finish with no fuss! (I opted to use a tray and then a casserole dish but this can be ignored). Roasting in a deep roasting tin then adding the coconut milk gives you crispy potatoes, chicken and minimal washing up. When you ‘roast’ in a casserole dish you don’t get the circulation of air and the crispy finish that you do when in a tray so this is preferred. However, I often like to manipulate the sauce consistency so I prefer to manage this by adding to a casserole once ready to add the coconut milk. But this is up to you!!

Serves 2

  • 4 x chicken pieces on the bone (2 x thighs and 2 x drumsticks)
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 500g small potatoes/new potatoes (halved if needed)
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1 x can coconut milk
  • Handful curry leaves
  • 150g frozen peas
  • Large handful green beans
  • 1 lime
  • Bunch coriander, chopped


  • Knob of ginger, freshly grated – 2 tbsp
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 limes, zest only (reserve for serving)
  • 1 tsp ground tumeric
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 large tsp ground garam masala
  • Sunflower oil

To serve

  • Popadoms
  • Mango chutney
  • Chopped coriander
  • Lime wedges (from marinade)
  1. Start by marinating the chicken (at least 30 minutes before, overnight if possible). Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and add the chicken and potatoes. Add a few tsp of sunflower oil and use your hands to fully coat. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200°C.
  3. This can be made in either a roasting tray OR a large flameproof casserole dish however I found the combination of the two the best (see above tip). Drizzle a little oil in the roasting tray and add the sliced red onions and garlic. Remove the chicken and potatoes from the fridge and add to the dish. Make sure the skin of the chicken is facing upwards and that the chicken is sitting on top of the everything.
  4. Roast in the oven for 50 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over a high heat and dry fry the fennel, coriander, cumin and mustard seeds for a few minutes, just until fragrant. Remove form the heat and grind in a pestle and mortar.
  6. Add these spices and the ground spices to the coconut milk and whisk. Add the curry leaves.
  7. After 50 minutes, remove the tray from the oven. Transfer the contents to a large casserole dish, ensuring your scrap all the delicious goodness off the bottom.
  8. Add the coconut milk (avoiding soaking the crispy chicken skin if you can) and ensure again that the chicken pieces are facing upwards, skin on the top.
  9. Bake in the oven for another 30 minutes.
  10. After this time, add the beans, peas and a generous squeeze of lime. Return to the oven for 5-10 more minutes.
  11. When ready to serve, scatter over the chopped coriander. Serve with popadoms and mango chutney.

WINE: We devoured this with a delicious Syrah from South Africa from the gorgeous Vrede en Lust. Benefits from decanting.