Japan Eats

Recipe: Asian chicken salad

This coriander-packed Thai salad makes a great appetizer, but it’s just as good as a spicy sandwich filling.

To give the salad a fresh, crispy texture, it’s important to rinse the sliced vegetables in ice water. It’s also best eaten within 24 hours.

When you mix the ingredients in the bowl, use both hands. The taste will be much better than if you mix using utensils (wood, metal or otherwise).

Asian chicken salad

Asian chicken salad

Ingredients (for 4 – 8 people)

  • 500 g of chicken breast
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of sake
  • 200 – 250 g cabbage
  • 120 g cucumber
  • 50 – 60 g red onion
  • 40 – 50 g celery
  • 20 g of roughly chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint

Dressing

  • 2 red peppers (dried and finely chopped)
  • 4 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of peanut or vegetable oil
  • A pinch of salt

Garnish

  • Roughly chopped fresh coriander
  • 4 – 5 tablespoons of crushed peanuts

Method

First we’ll prepare the chicken. Remove any excess moisture with a paper towel then sprinkle ½ teaspoon of salt and black pepper onto all sides of the chicken breast. Place the chicken on a plate then rest it for 5 minutes. Pour 2 tablespoons of sake over it then wrap the plate with cling film (2 layers) before cooking it in the microwave for 5 ½ minutes. Take the plate out of the microwave and allow the chicken to rest until it is cool enough to touch.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the dressing. Mix all of the ingredients other than the peanut oil and salt in a large bowl. Now add the peanut oil. Do so slowly stirring the dressing with your other hand. Check the flavor and add salt to taste.

As the chicken cools, prepare the vegetables. Rinse the cabbage then slice into pieces 1 – 2 mm thick. Rinse the cucumber and cut into slices approximately 1 mm thick. Peel the red onion then slice thinly, following the grain. Remove the strings from the celery and slice the stems diagonally into 1 – 2 mm pieces. Cut the leaves into pieces 1 – 2 mm thick.

Fill a large bowl with ice water (enough to cover the cabbage, cucumber, red onion and celery) and rinse them for 5 – 6 minutes before draining.

Once cool, break the chicken breast by hand into bite-sized pieces (follow the grain). Add this together with the liquid on the plate into the bowl containing the dressing.

Now add the vegetables to the chicken/dressing mixture.

Add 20 g of roughly chopped coriander and 2 tablespoons of finely chopped mint to the bowl. Combine all the ingredients by hand.

Decorate the salad with fresh coriander and crushed peanuts before serving.

Recipe: Deep fried eggplant with sweet chilli sauce

This Thai style appetizer balances sweet, sour and spicy.

As the weather becomes warmer, I find myself preparing Southeast Asian dishes. Deep fried eggplant with sweet chilli sauce is a favorite.

A note on the preparation: the pieces of eggplant will be smaller when they are cooked, so its worth cutting them into pieces slightly larger than bite-size.

Deep fried eggplant with sweet chili sauce

Deep fried eggplant with sweet chili sauce

Ingredients

  • 400 g eggplant
  • 4 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped mint

Method

First prepare the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl – mix the sweet chili sauce, lemon juice and nam pla together.

Next, heat approximately 3 cm of vegetable oil in a deep fryer to 180 degrees Celsius. Cut the eggplant diagonally and immediately deep fry the pieces for about 1 minute without batter. Note that if the temperature of the oil is too low, the eggplant will absorb too much of the oil. When they have browned and are cooked right through (use a skewer to check) fish them out of the oil and drain on a tray.

Add the eggplant to the bowl containing the sauce. Stir so that the eggplant is fully coated. Cool in the fridge for roughly 15 – 20 minutes.

Finally add 2 tablespoons of mint and mix well. Be sure to let the eggplant cool down first or you risk changing the mint’s color and aroma.

Serve.

Recipe: Asian-style roast chicken salad

This Southeast Asian dish is incredibly simple to make. The salad employs one of the great flavor combinations – sesame and roast chicken.

It also contains nam pla, the aromatic Thai fish sauce, which adds depth to the flavor. If you don’t have any on hand, you can substitute nuoc man, the Vietnamese version of the same thing (although in Japan, nam pla tends to be easier to find than nuoc man – I buy mine at Seiyu supermarket).

Serve with with rice noodles such as pho.

Asian-style chicken salad

Asian-style chicken salad

Ingredients (for 2-3 people)

  • 250g chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons of roasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc man)
  • 2-3 fresh lettuce leaves
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1/4 of a red onion

Method

Break the lettuce into bite-sized pieces by hand. Thinly slice the onion (against the grain) and cut the green pepper in half and then into thin strips.

Place the vegetables into a bowl, then pour just enough water to cover them. Add 4-5 ice cubes to keep them crispy. Leave these in the water for about ten minutes, then drain.

Sprinkle a pinch of salt and 1 pinch of pepper over the chicken breast and let it sit for for 5 minutes. Next, dribble a teaspoon of Thai fish sauce over the chicken and let it sit for another 5 minutes.

Spread the sesame oil over the chicken breast with a cooking brush (or use the back side of a small spoon). Dust the roasted sesame seeds over both sides of the chicken.

Preheat the oven to 210 degrees Celsius (410 Fahrenheit) and place the chicken on a tray covered in baking paper. Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

When the chicken has finished cooking, take it out of the oven and let it cool. Once ready, tear the chicken into bite-sized pieces by hand. Plate the vegetables and then decorate with the pieces of chicken. Garnish with coriander (cilantro to those in North America) and a piece of lemon or lime.