Friday, 8 August 2014

Vietnamese chicken salad

A long, long time ago, I saw a Vietnamese salad at citrus & candy blog, and I loved all of it. Above all, the part that advises adjusting the proportions of meat and vegetables to taste, and changing the ingredients, because that is the funniest part in the kitchen. I have not made too many changes, but a few. I do not use fish sauce, so I adjusted the marinade and seasoning to my taste. And I used mint instead of coriander, and fresh hazelnuts instead of roasted peanuts. So maybe it is not a Vietnamese salad, after all, but I liked the name so much that I wanted to keep it, anyway. 
What is certain is that I am a skeptic with marinades. Better said: I was a skeptic. Probably I had not found one to my taste. In this case, with strong flavors such as soy sauce, garlic and ginger in it and leaving chicken inside it overnight, I can assure that the naturally bland chicken breast was tasty, absolutely tasty.

Anyway, like any good salad, it admits lots of variations. Even just the way I prepared it, it is a very tasty and unique dish with an exotic note that you cannot miss.

Vietnamese chicken salad

Ingredients (for 4 servings)

For the chicken marinade
4 chicken breasts, clean and cut in fillets of similar size
2 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon soy sauce (I prefer low salt)
1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger 
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons oil (optional: can be replaced with more water if necessary to clarify the soy sauce)
2 teaspoons sugar

For the dressing
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
1-2 chilies, clean seed, and chopped

For the salad
1/2 Chinese cabbage, cleaned and chopped leaves into strips
1 carrot, chopped
3 shallots, julienned
12-15 raw hazelnuts
2 shallots, julienned, sauteed
2 cloves garlic, chopped and sauteed
1 large red chilli, finely chopped
Mint leaves (or Vietnamese coriander, which I obviously was not able to find)

Place the chicken in a zipping bag. Then mix the marinade ingredients and pour over chicken breasts. Keep in refrigerator until ready to use (at least half an hour, preferably overnight). The chicken can be grilled, fried or steamed, and then crumble into strips or pieces. Add a couple teaspoons of the marinade to prevent drying. I grilled it without oil, just before using it.
Mix the dresing ingredients in a bowl and emulsify well with hand mixer until making a smooth sauce. Reserve.
In a large bowl, put the vegetables and the mint leaves. Add the chicken and season to taste. Complete with shallots, garlic, hazelnuts, chilli and mint, and serve immediately accompanied by more seasoning.

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