Asian-style Poached Chicken Salad with Lettuce Cups
It’s fun for guests to assemble their own “cups” and it makes for a little less work and timing anxiety for the host. Coriander is often sold with roots attached, and they’re full of flavour! Same with the tough stems. The flavours here are bright, fresh, light and citrusy.
4 cups (1 L) chicken broth
2 organic skinless chicken breasts; about 1 lb (500 g)
2 tsp (10 mL) red or Sichuan whole peppercorns 1 dried chili
3 to 4 green cardamom pods; cracked (optional) All the roots and coarse stems from a bunch of fresh coriander; well-washed in cold water, about ½ cup (125 mL)
1 knob of fresh ginger, 2 inches (5 cm) quartered
6 spring onions, roots and tough green parts trimmed, finely chopped
¾ cup (175 mL) finely chopped fresh coriander leaves and tender stems
2 tbsp (30 mL) minced fresh ginger
1 medium red pepper, finely diced
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 Thai chili or jalapeño, finely diced, optional ½ English cucumber, seeds removed, quartered, thinly sliced
½ tsp (2 mL) toasted sesame oil
¼ cup (60 mL) fresh lime juice, about 1 big, juicy lime
2 tsp (10 mL) soy sauce
1 tbsp (15 mL) maple syrup
2 tbsp (30 mL) neutral-tasting oil: peanut, soy, vegetable or light olive
2 to 3 heads of bibb (butter) or iceberg lettuce, cored, leaves detached
1 Into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add the broth, chicken breasts, peppercorns, dried chili, cardamom (if using), coriander roots and ginger. Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until chicken is opaque and firm to the touch.
2 When done, transfer the chicken to a plate to cool; strain the broth through a cheesecloth or fine sieve and reserve. Keep the stock in a covered container for a soup or sauce—refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze.
3 When chicken is cool enough to handle, pull the meat apart into shreds; add to a medium bowl.
4 To the chicken, add the green onions, coriander, ginger, red pepper, carrot, Thai chili and cucumber. Toss to combine well.
5 In a small bowl, using a whisk, combine the sesame oil, lime juice, soy sauce, maple syrup and oil. Set aside until ready to serve. Right before serving, drizzle the dressing over the chicken salad and toss to coat.
6 Rinse and spin-dry the lettuce leaves. Serve family style; simply put out a bowl of the salad with a spoon alongside stacks of lettuce “cups,” and let everyone make their own. Or, for a more formal approach, lay the lettuce cups onto a very large platter, and spoon a generous amount of salad into each. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 cups (1.5 L) of salad