Saigon chicken and cabbage salad

OH DUDES, I saw this in the latest Australian Gourmet Traveller and had to break my magazine embargo and buy it, just to make it. Well, this and the coconut cake on the front cover which looks divine*.

I made it – I even made the dressing the way it says, with mortar and pestle (rather than bunging it all in the food processor) and OH.MY.GOODNESS. Eleanorfromthecommentbox and I had scoffed two bowls of it before we even got to the official eating location of the back verandah. It was a fitting dish for feeding her family (or parts thereof) too.

So, as we stare down the barrel to some horrendously hot weather, this is the total solution. For those of you in snow, well, just make it regardless.

Saigon chicken and cabbage salad

Australian Gourmet Traveller, January 2011

  • 500g chicken breasts (original recipe uses chicken thighs)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 long red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 each white and red cabbage, thinly sliced on a mandolin
  • 3 carrots, julienned
  • 1/4 cup (firmly packed) each mint, coriander, Thai basil and Vietnamese mint
  • 1 bunch chives, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup roast peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 12 canned quail eggs (I didn’t use these-canned eggs? Skeevy)

Chilli and lime dressing

  • 5 long red chillies, coarsely chopped
  • 3 coriander roots, scraped
  • 1 golden shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 ripe Roma tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 50g caster sugar
  • Juice of 2 limes, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C
  2. Combine the chicken with the honey, chilli, ginger and garlic in a baking dish. Season to taste and cover with foil and roast until chicken is cooked (about 12-15 minutes). Remove foil and cool to room temperature, then coarsely shred the chicken and set aside.
  3. For the dressing, pound the chilli, coriander root, shallot and garlic in a mortar and pestle then add the tomato and pound to combine.
  4. Add 25ml water and remaining ingredients, adjust seasoning to taste and set aside. The dressing should be sweet, salty, hot and sour.
  5. Combine the cabbage, carrot and herbs in a bowl, add chicken, drizzle over a little dressing and toss to combine. Add more dressing to taste, scatter with peanuts (and quail eggs if you wish) and serve.

So good. So very very good.

* But get this, the whole section on coconut has you MAKING your own coconut milk or cream by buying FREAKING coconuts. I mean, COME ON.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Granted it’s not quite the weather for such a summery dish, but sometimes you just can’t take any more soups, stews, pies (gasp) or roasts.

I can’t remember where this came from, I think it’s a Donna Hay number but it could just as easily be from Bill Granger.
Vietnamese Chicken Salad
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock
  • 8-10 peppercorns
  • several sticks of fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tblsp caster sugar
  • 50ml fish sauce
  • 2-4 long chillies, seeded and shredded
  • 1/2 small cabbage, shredded (or Chinese cabbage)
  • good handful each of Vietnamese mint, Thai basil, coriander, spearmint
  • handful unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
  1. Place stock, peppercorns, and ginger in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer
  2. Season the chicken with a little salt and poach for 15 minutes
  3. Cool in the stock
  4. Make the dressing – the longer it gets to stand, the better it tastes
  5. Drain the chicken and shred with your fingers
  6. Combine chicken, cabbage, herbs and peanuts and drizzle over the dressing
  7. Serve immediately.
Obviously this has infinite variations – I like adding some bean shoots for extra crunch and sometimes julienned carrot and cucumber. You know, whatever’s in the veggie drawer really.

Five Bean Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing

I love legumes. LOVE them. The thought of a red kidney bean chilli or chickpeas pretty much any which way are my kind of food. So when I saw a recipe for a five bean salad in the January issue of Cuisine I had to buy it. For that alone. Because those fancy pants covers? With the scenes made out of food? They actually shit me to tears. Show-offs.

I think there are infinite variations (infact, I threw in a can of chick peas as well as I love them) on this so long as you keep a nice balance between the fresh and the canned. The dressing is to die for. The preamble to the recipe says that it is the perfect foil to rich fatty sausages and I would have to agree. It is almost cleansing. I would like to try it very much on some warm baby potatoes and maybe flake over some poached salmon or rainbow trout.

Five Bean Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing
Cuisine, January 2008

  • 420g white beans (butter or cannellini), drained and rinsed
  • 420g borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
  • 300g green beans, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup fresh (or 1 cup frozen) broad beans
  • 2 cups bean spouts
  1. In a bowl combine the drained beans, pour over the dressing (below) and toss well
  2. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil
  3. Add the beans and boil for five minutes
  4. After three mintues add the broad beans
  5. After four minutes add the bean sprouts
  6. Have a big bowl of iced water at the ready, drain the beans and refresh in the iced water
  7. Skin the tough outer layer from the broad beans
  8. Add the fresh beans to the already dressed beans and toss well

Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing

  • 3 tblsp poppy seeds
  • 1 small red onion, grated
  • 1 tblsp honey
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • fresh black pepper
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp lemon-infused olive oil (I just used evoo)
  1. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add the poppy seeds
  2. Cook, tossing in the pan, for three minutes until toasted
  3. Place the onion in a bowl with the seeds, honey, zest, salt and pepper
  4. Whisk in the lemon juice and the oil

Lemony lamb with roasted vegetable couscous salad

I’ve been quite proud of my expanded dinner repertoire of late. Particularly that most of it does not follow a particular recipe to the letter. For you see, I am one of those home cooks who tend to follow recipes to the letter. I get ansy if I have to change something or leave something out and do not even bother trying to console me if it all goes pear shaped and ends up uneaten or worse… unedible. And yes, those two things are very very different.

Anyway, this is an example of me relaxing the recipe fixation and going with flavours. If I wasn’t watching the fat intake so much I would have lugged over the olive oil for the veggies to roast and then dressed the couscous and veggies in the honey mustard dressing I have come to know and love. But it was delicious all the same.

Lemony lamb with roasted vegetable and couscous salad

  • lamb backstrap (as many as you need for as many as you’re feeding)
  • lemon pepper
  • 1 cup couscous
  • pumpkin, cut into chunks
  • sweet potato, cut into similar sized chunks as the pumpkin
  • eggplant, cut into thick slices (as in, about 1cm thick) and then cut again to similar size pieces as vegetables
  • Spanish onions, cut into chunks
  • 2 tbls olive oil
  • mint
  • flat-leafed parsley
  • 1 lemon, zest finely grated and juiced
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 220C
  2. Coat the lamb in the lemon pepper and set aside while you chop the vegetables and get them cooking
  3. Cook vegetables for about 30 minutes or until getting some good colour and are cooked through.
  4. Cook the lamb using your preferred method – I would have used the stove top cast iron griddle, but have been using the knock out the fat knock out the flavour non-stick benchtop griller thingy we normally reserve for toasted sandwiches lately and been pleasantly surprised. For starters, meat is done in 3-4 minutes (as it cooks top and bottom), they get the nice ‘lines’ on them and I’m using a lot less fat in my cooking. And it’s easy to clean. I know! – and then let it rest
  5. Combine the couscous with 1 cup boiling water (I throw in some stock powder to add more flavour) and cover
  6. Combine the couscous with the vegetables, herbs, zest and juice
  7. Slice lamb and serve w/ couscous and green veg of choice. I cooked some asparagus on the grill after cooking the lamb as it is in season here at the mo and absolutely delicious.

Puy lentils with mint and feta

As I embark on project boombalardy I have been cooking a lot more with lentils and loving it. This was something I just made up as part of the Festival of Jasper on the weekend which was simply sensational.

Puy lentils with mint and feta

  • 1 cup puy lentils
  • 200g feta
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes
  • 1 lebanese cucumber, quartered and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup (or so) kalamata olives
  • 2-4 sprigs mint, finely chopped
  • 2-3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 lime, zest finely grated and juiced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  1. Combine the lentils with 1 1/2 cups water (or stock), bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 15-20 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and lentils are al dente. For want of a better expression.
  2. Drain lentils and toss with crumbled feta, the tomatoes, cucumber, olives, herbs and zest.
  3. Squeeze over lime juice and the olive oil and season.

Naturally, if you’re not watching your fat intake with the intensity of the best British train-watcher, you could pour over a few good lugs and a bit more lime juice, but this was very tasty all the same.

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