VIET­NAMESE CHICKEN SALAD

QT Magazine - - FOOD -

SERVES 4–6 PREP TIME 30 MIN­UTES COOK­ING TIME 20 MIN­UTES

This is the de­fin­i­tive Asian salad: healthy, low-fat, low-carb and packed with flavour, crunch and other pos­i­tive, go-get­ting qual­i­ties. If you poach the chicken breasts and prep the vegeta­bles and dress­ing ear­lier, the whole thing comes to­gether in mo­ments – per­fect for a mid­week summer din­ner. MAKE AHEAD: The chicken can be poached up to 2 days ahead and kept in an airtight con­tainer in the fridge. Al­ter­na­tively, poach a few breasts at the same time and, when cool, wrap them tightly in plas­tic wrap or put them in a zip-lock bag and freeze for up to 3 months – pull one out to de­frost when­ever you need some for a salad or sand­wiches. The dress­ing may be made up to 1 week ahead and stored in an airtight jar in the fridge. The salad, mi­nus the dress­ing and the nuts, can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept, re­frig­er­ated, in an airtight con­tainer.

IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) chicken breast fil­lets

1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) Chi­nese cab­bage (wong bok), end re­moved, quar­tered length­ways and thinly sliced

300 g (10 1⁄2 oz) car­rots, coarsely grated or cut into very thin match­sticks

6 spring onions (scal­lions), ends re­moved, thinly sliced

1 large hand­ful mint, leaves only, coarsely chopped

2 large hand­fuls co­rian­der (cilantro), leaves only, coarsely chopped

50 g (1 3⁄4 oz/ 1⁄3 cup) un­salted roasted peanuts, lightly crushed

2 1⁄2 ta­ble­spoons sesame seeds, toasted VIET­NAMESE DRESS­ING

2 long red chill­ies, seeded and coarsely chopped 2 gar­lic cloves, coarsely chopped

100 g (3 12⁄ oz/ 1⁄2 cup lightly packed) light brown su­gar

2 ta­ble­spoons white rice vine­gar (or sub­sti­tute cider vine­gar)

100 ml (3 1⁄2 fl oz) lime juice (about 4 limes)

100 ml (3 1⁄2 fl oz) fish sauce

To serve: prawn crack­ers (op­tional)

METHOD

Trim any vis­i­ble fat or sinew off the chicken breasts. In a wide saucepan, bring 1.5 litres (52 fl oz/6 cups) of well-salted water to the boil over high heat and then add the chicken breast fil­lets. Turn the heat down to a low sim­mer and gen­tly poach the chicken for 10 min­utes. Turn the heat off, cover with the saucepan lid and let the chicken con­tinue cook­ing for a fur­ther 10 min­utes. Re­move with tongs and al­low to cool un­til it’s stopped steam­ing, then cover and re­frig­er­ate.

For the Viet­namese dress­ing, mix all the in­gre­di­ents in a small food pro­ces­sor bowl or a stick blender con­tainer and blitz for a cou­ple of min­utes, un­til well blended. Taste for sweet/sour/salty bal­ance and ad­just to your lik­ing.

When ready to serve, shred the chicken breasts with your fin­gers into rough, bite-sized pieces.

Mix the Chi­nese cab­bage, car­rots, spring onions, mint and co­rian­der in a large bowl. Add half the dress­ing, half the chicken and half the nuts and seeds and toss it all to­gether. Ar­range on a plat­ter and scat­ter with the re­main­ing chicken, nuts and seeds, driz­zled with the rest of the dress­ing.

Serve the salad on its own or with prawn crack­ers.

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