A zingy treat if shvitzing
WE HAVE made great leaps forward in meteorology in recent years. Now, if it says on the weather forecast that there is a 40 per cent chance of showers, we know there is a 90 per cent chance of that being right.
However, beyond five days things unravel — long-term forecasting is notoriously unreliable — so as I write this I have no way of knowing whether you are reading the JC in a baking hot garden or huddling inside with hot chocolate as the rain falls. But for the benefit of this column I am going to assume that we are in midheatwave — oy, is it shvitzing!
In the Far East they tend to eat foods which cool them down by paradoxically heating them up — chilli peppers, it seems, do both simultaneously.
One of my favourite summer recipes is a Vietnamese chicken salad which needs minimal cooking (none at all if you have some cold chicken to hand) and is zingy, refreshing and healthy. Let me just cool down for a minute with a glass of iced lemonade and I will tell you how to prepare it.
First, shred 200g of chicken. This could easily be the fowl you used to make your Friday night chicken soup. Alternatively, leftover roast or grilled chicken is perfect. Shred it finely and place in a large bowl with 200g of finely shredded Chinese cabbage leaves, a large grated carrot, 100g of beansprouts and 20g each of mint and coriander, also shredded finely. Add a handful of crushed roasted peanuts to the mixture – these give a nice crunch.
Then make your Vietnamese dressing. The Thais and Vietnamese use nam pla or fish sauce but I haven't seen a kosher version (and in any event you wouldn't mix fish with chicken). So I would substitute light soy sauce. Add two tablespoons to a separate bowl, add an equal amount of freshly squeezed lime juice, a tablespoon of rice vinegar, a tablespoon of caster sugar and a grated or minced clove of garlic plus a finely chopped chilli (hotter or milder depending on your taste). Mix well and pour over the chicken mixture. Garnish with a few more chopped peanuts.
Retreat under mosquito nets and wait patiently for the monsoon to arrive... or maybe for the drizzle to stop.
One of my favourite summer recipes is a Vietnamese chicken salad