Monday, 16 January 2017

Spicy Chicken Salad

This dish is something I've been making and tweaking for years.  It started off as a Vietnamese chicken salad with poached chicken breasts and a spicy dressing.  Over the years the recipe evolved to using thighs and baking the chicken then using the dressing as a marinade and here is where I am now.

Nothing authentic about it; in a way it's like a Vietnamese chicken salad meats caramel chicken mash up; sorry for the mish mash of influences.


Most of all though, it tastes great.  The harshness of the garlic and chilli are mellowed out by them being cooked.  The chicken thighs are much juicier and flavoursome than the poached breasts but benefit from the oven cooking to give them flavour and cook out some of the fat.  The freshness is still in the dish from the salad.

So all in all, I urge you to try my salad which I've just called "spicy chicken salad" as nothing else quite sums it up without me feeling very guilty for my crimes against food authenticity.  It's a great winter dish as the warm chicken makes it feel more comforting and the vegetables are still crunchy even when salad leaves are looking a bit sad in the shops.  Any leftovers are also great cold, just refrigerate the chicken then assemble the salad with the cold chicken and cold juices (skimming off any fat) or have with hot rice and vegetables as a Buddha bowl.

Spicy Chicken Salad - Serves 2 but leftovers are brilliant

Ingredients

500g, 18oz Skinless, boneless chicken thighs
4 tbsp Fish Sauce
2 Cloves garlic
1 Red chilli
2 tbsp White sugar
Juice of 1 lime

To serve
Crunchy vegetables; I used cucumber, sugar snap peas and red pepper but you could also use shredded carrots, cabbage, mange tout (snow peas) and onion.
2 tbsp Roasted unsalted peanuts, see tip below.*
Coriander (cilantro)

Method

Mix the fish sauce, chopped garlic, chopped chilli, sugar and lime in a baking dish then mix in the chicken thighs.

Bake at 200oC, 400F, Gas Mark 6 for about 40-45 minutes or until cooked through and browning.


In the meantime, chop up the salad ingredients and put on a plate.  Top the salad with the chicken, chopped peanuts and coriander then drizzle with some of the cooking juices and serve immediately.


* Tip.  It can be difficult to find roasted unsalted peanuts so I tend to buy salted peanuts and rinse off the salt just before serving.

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