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Thai Coconut Chicken Salad

The inspiration for this recipe came from sharing a wonderfully vibrant salad with friends at Bambou a few weeks ago. I spent a few days idly thinking ooh, I must get round to trying to recreate that. And then not doing it. Finally, after a Saturday spent scoffing barbequed meat, chips and ice cream (all delicious, obviously) my body craved something fresh and light, with actual vitamins. It was time….

I used this recipe as a base, and added more vegetables and the noodles to make it more of a satisfying main meal. There’s no oil, so as long as you use low fat coconut milk it’s pretty healthy. Although the list of ingredients is quite long, and there is a lot of chopping involved, it is very simple to make. Fragrant with lots of mint and coriander, it’s a dish of wonderful contrasts – soft chicken and noodles against crunchy carrots and peanuts, cooling coconut and cucumber against fiery chilli and ginger – comforting yet refreshing at the same time.

You will need

(this will serve 4 – there’s only 2 of us in my house so we had leftovers):

  • 3-4 skinless chicken breasts, depending on size, flattened out a bit with a heavy implement so they’re all around the same thickness
  • 2 tins low fat coconut milk
  • fish sauce
  • 1 stick of lemongrass, bashed a bit (I used my pestle)
  • palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 red chillies – finely sliced (whether you leave the seeds in is up to you – I did, because I am NAILS*)
  • 1 bunch of coriander – finely chopped (stems too)
  • 1 bunch of mint – finely chopped
  • 2 carrots – peeled and cut into thin batons
  • 2 or 3 ‘heads’ of pak choi – sliced into pound coin thickness (roughly, please don’t get a ruler out)
  • 1 half cucumber – peel, remove the seeds, then cut into thin batons
  • 4 spring onions – finely sliced
  • 2 limes
  • roasted peanuts – roughly chopped
  • 1 packet of ready cooked thin rice noodles

*um, they weren’t very hot (I test chilli heat by cutting off the very tip of the pepper and touching it with my tongue – if it burns, I don’t add the seeds).

Put these things into a saucepan: coconut milk, 2 tbsps fish sauce, 2 tbsps palm sugar, lemongrass, ginger, kaffir lime leaves

Stir to combine and bring to the boil, then add the chicken, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the heat and leave to cool in the liquid (it won’t look very appetising at this point but fret not).

Once the chicken is cold remove from the sauce and shred with a couple of forks, then in a big bowl mix the chicken with the carrot, cucumber, spring onion, pak choi, herbs and chillies (keeping back a small amount of these last two for sprinkling over the top before serving).

Take about 150ml of the sauce and add the juice of one lime, a tsp of soy sauce then stir or shake to combine (I use a jam jar). Pop the noodles into the remaining sauce for a few minutes so they can soak up some of the flavours, then drain (reserving the liquid) and add to the salad. Taste before dressing the salad – I added a bit more fish sauce and palm sugar to lift it. Once you are happy with the flavour pour over the salad and mix thoroughly. Before serving sprinkle liberally with the chopped peanuts and the reserved herbs and chillies and spritz with a bit more lime juice.

Leftovers: the rest of the coconut liquor can be frozen, but in my house things that get put in the freezer tend to get forgotten about unless they’re ice or vodka 😉 You can just bung the leftovers in a tupperware and that’s your next day’s lunch sorted. We had the remains of the salad the next evening – I heated the chicken, veg and noodles and served it with basmati rice (cooked in the leftover coconut sauce) and steamed pak choi, with more lime juice squeezed over to freshen it up.

Tips: the chicken can be poached the day before – leave in the fridge in the sauce until you need to assemble the salad. Finely shredded white or spring cabbage will work instead of the pak choi, and you can also add beansprouts and/or sliced water chestnuts (I was going to put water chestnuts in but the ones I bought tasted funky, in a bad way, so I put them in the bin).

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2 comments on “Thai Coconut Chicken Salad

  1. diane
    August 28, 2012

    There are only two words that can interest me in a salad, and they are “chicken” and “Thai”… I may have to try this one sometime.

  2. Keris
    August 30, 2012

    This looks delish. Must try it.

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This entry was posted on August 27, 2012 by in Bea Delicious, Bea Healthy.
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