Hello everyone. Yupp, it looks like I am still on a salad roll here this week, and I suspect it’s growing on me. This is what happens when I think about something a lot … like REALLY a lot. And trust me, I have been thinking about salad a great deal over the past week … not even sure why. I don’t usually consume salad at home and that’s probably because R. is not a fan of the greens. Therefore, I don’t bother making salads since that means making a single portion. Personally, I think given a chance I would eat salads more often … if that meant I don’t have to be the one making it.
Anyhoo, since I am on a roll I best make the most of it and clear my head. Feels weird making salad posts in the middle of winter, but so be it.It doesn’t feel like winter anyway considering I have yet to experience snowfall. Shall dedicate this entire month to good clean eating with a variety of salads. This one I made up in my head … Chinese New Year is coming and we have been stuffing our faces with Mandarin oranges for the past week. Then it hit me! I should make a salad featuring Mandarin oranges. The thought was a tiny one and I wasn’t quite sure where to go from there, but as I sat munching on orange segments the idea grew and grew. Suddenly sweet chilli sauce popped into my head, along with chicken, and cucumbers and mangoes. Soon a plan began to take shape and I came up with a salad that would allow me to incorporate my favourite southeast Asian flavours, balancing sweet, sour, salty and heat, and present it in honour of Chinese New Year.
I am aware the list of ingredients looks long, but bare with me on this one … you won’t regret it. I SWEAR!
- 4 Chicken thigh fillets
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 1 inch ginger, grated
- 1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
- 2 tbsp minced green onion (white stem only)
- ½ cup sweet chilli sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- splash of rice vinegar
- mixed greens
- cucumber slices
- 1 ripe mango, sliced
- crushed peanuts
Mandarin Orange, Lime & Chilli Dressing
- 125 mls water
- 100 g white sugar
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp mandarin orange juice
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- zest of 1 mandarin orange
- zest of 1 lime
- ½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- 1 tsp finely chopped coriander leaves
- 1 tsp finely chopped mint leaves
Start off by making the marinade. Combine the soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, minced garlic, ginger, green onion, Chinese cooking wine and lemongrass in a Ziplock bag. Add in the chicken and leave in the fridge for about 2 – 4 hours. I left mine overnight for maximum flavour saturation. That’s step one done.
Next I would recommend you prep the dressing and chill it in the fridge. Bring the sugar and water to a boil and reduce it by half. Then take the syrup off the heat, add all the juices, zests, finely chopped chilli, coriander leaves, mint leaves and rice vinegar. Stir well and then
store in the fridge to set aside on the kitchen counter to cool completely and allow the flavours to meld together. I have since discovered that storing it in the fridge isn’t such a good idea because the crystals tend to cluster together and form rocks. We want nice syrup with no lumps.
Okay, time to cook. Take out the chicken pieces and pat any excess liquid dry with kitchen towels. Heat some oil in a pan and sear each piece on either side. When chicken pieces are nicely browned (but still only half cooked), dunk them in a bowl of sweet chilli sauce + rice vinegar. Coat generously then transfer the chicken to a baking tray and continue the rest of the cooking under a hot broiler for 8 – 12 minutes. The sugars in the chilli sauce will give the chicken a nice caramelized colour and deepen the flavour. Once sufficiently brown, remove from oven and rest for 5 mins. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Now prep the salad leaves and the mango. Wash and dry leaves. Select the nice ones, discard the wilted bits. Slice mango flesh thinly using a potato peeler. Slice cucumbers in the same manner. Now julienne both the cucumber and mango and place them in a bowl. Toss with some of the chilli, orange and lime dressing. Add coriander and mint leaves. Taste to see if you are happy with the flavours.
Place chicken thighs in the center of a salad bowl. Arrange salad leaves, more cucumber and mango slices around it. Then top with the julienned bits. Pour the dressing over the salad and garnish with a mint sprig.
You can plate up any way you wish. Prepare individual plates or slice up the chicken and plate it up on a huge platter so people can simple help themselves. Trust me, people will be asking you for more … so have extras handy. The saltiness from the soy sauce balanced perfectly with the citrus juices and the sweetness from the mango and the sweet chilli sauce. I am well pleased with my creation. R. didn’t want any (pffft …) so I got to enjoy the entire serving for myself. Lip-smacking good!
So with this I sign off and wish all my Chinese friends and family back home and abroad, Gong Xi Fa Cai, Happy Chinese New Year and happy holidays. Let the year of the horse commence!! Shall have to read up what my horoscope has in store for the rest of the year. I hope it’s goodnews.