Monday, August 5, 2013

Thai chicken salad (or chicken satay salad)

Imagine the best chicken satay you've had, complete with that slightly peanuty, deeply umami sauce. Now imagine that in salad form....

Luckily for those of you with no imagination, I have that exact salad right here!

It's a simple salad to make, which makes it great to bring to a large gathering or to work for a healthy weekday lunch. But the flavors are nothing from simple. The crunch from the cabbage pairs insanely well with the tender chicken chunks, cooked quasi-satay style for that extra ummmph of flavor. And don't even get me started on the cilantro with the soy sauce/vinegar/fish sauce/peanut dressing that has just the perfect amount of heat to it. BAM!!! Flavor party in your mouth.

How is purple cabbage so beautiful??

The salad would also be incredibly delicious served vegetarian, as most of the flavor really does come from the salad dressing. Or replace the chicken with a protein of your choice--some firm tofu would work great here.

And even if you're not a fan of cabbage, feel free to make the salad with whatever veggies you want. The dressing truly is one of the best peanut-based dressings I've ever had, so whether you'd prefer to use it on top of some romaine lettuce or as a dipping sauce for some spring rolls/ lettuce cups, you need to make it.


Yours in further deepening her love of Thai-inspired dishes,

Thai Chicken Salad, adapted from Pinch of Yum
So I used only red cabbage for this salad, which worked great. But the flavor of red cabbage is much stronger than green, so be forewarned. While the dressing really can stand up to the flavor, in the future I might use a combo of green/red cabbage. I didn't end up making the recipe with green papaya, but I'd love to try that next time, so I'm including it here for you as well.

1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or another cut of chicken of your choice)
2 cups of green, white, and/or red cabbage, shredded/sliced (Feel free to increase to 3+ cups if you're not using the papaya)
1 1/2 cups carrots (~1 - 2 large carrots), shredded/grated
1 1/2 cups green papaya (~1 papaya), shredded
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced
3 bird's eye Thai chilli peppers (or 1/2 tsp minced hot pepper), minced
2 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP vinegar (white or rice)
2 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP fresh lime juice
1 TBSP oil
1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
2 TBSP creamy or chunky peanut butter (up to 1/4 cup if you like a more prominent peanut flavor)
1 TBSP water (eliminate if making a dipping sauce)

  1. Slice chicken thighs into strips, season with salt and pepper, and cook on medium high heat in a large nonstick skillet until golden and cooked through. The key is here is to NOT overcrowd your pan. You don't want the chicken to steam, you want it to brown. So you'll have to cook the chicken in 3 to 4 batches, depending on the size of your skillet. Once the chicken is cooked and cooled, roughly chop into large chunks. Luckily each batch takes maybe 6 minutes or so, and you can continue to prep the ingredients for your salad while the chicken cooks... (Note: You can cook or buy the chicken any way you want here: grilled, poached, rotisserie; whatever is easiest and/or you prefer!)
  2. Combine the chicken with the rest of the salad ingredients, except for the peanuts, in a large bowl and chill.
  3. Mix the dressing ingredients in a glass/mason jar and give the a hearty shake. Make sure the peanut butter is fully dissolved in the dressing and no chunks remain.
  4. An hour or so before you're ready to serve the salad, toss with the dressing, and chill until ready. Top with the peanuts upon serving. (I like to pre-mix the salad and dressing just a little before serving to give the ingredients some time to meld together. Alternatively, feel free to top the salad with dressing right before serving.) If preparing in advance, keep the salad and dressing separate, and mix before serving.
  5. The salad is best within the first day or so of mixing in the dressing, but it'll last for at least a few days without too much loss of crunchiness.


Food to Fitness said...

Great recipe and pics. Thanks for sharing.

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