National Salad Month: Thai Spicy Chicken Salad with Toasted Chilli Peanuts

Keeping up with the theme of celebrating May as National Salad Month, this second salad recipe is light and refreshing yet at the same time full of exciting flavors. Honestly, it is quite tricky to create salads that differ in flavors, usually its a bunch of vegetables tossed together with a dressing. Hence a good way to excite your palate and eat healthy at the same time is to look to the various cuisines of the world for inspiration. Since most of the flavors are in the dressing and the marinades, it turns into a culinary thrill while concocting the dressing using different sauces and spices. Each cuisine formulates its own indigenous flavors through the use of certain spices and herbs, which in turn become their identity. In Thai cuisine, the pungent flavors of kaffir leaves and lemongrass combined with the salty taste of fish sauce and the spiciness of the red chillies have a lasting effect, thereby creating a signature taste.

National Salad Month: Thai Spicy Chicken Salad with Toasted Chilli Peanuts

Those flavors are found in almost all Thai dishes, from their curries to their stir-fries. Furthermore, they are adapted to created aromatic salads that are light yet bursting with flavors. One of the most famous Thai salads is their papaya salad, made up of raw papaya and dried shrimp, but its real flavor lies in its sweet yet spicy and tart dressing, not to forget the toasted peanuts on top. For a wholesome meal, I drew my inspiration from Thai salad dressings, which is heavily dependent on the ‘Salt of South-East Asia’; fish sauce,  but incorporated marinated chicken, a mix of crunchy vegetables and chilli covered peanuts. To get a smoky flavor, slightly toast the peanuts, but not for long in order to prevent the red chilli powder coating from remaining in the pan.

National Salad Month: Thai Spicy Chicken Salad with Toasted Chilli Peanuts

Ingredients:

  • 250g chicken fillets
  • 3 tbsp Thai sweet chilli sauce
  • 2 tbsp sweet soy sauce
  • 1 iceberg lettuce
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup mangetout
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander, chopped
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp palm or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2-3 red chillies, chopped
  • 1 cup chilli peanuts

Preparation:

  • Slice the chicken fillet into strips, pour the sweet soy sauce and Thai sweet chilli sauce and mix well. Once the chicken strips are coated in the marinade, refrigerate for at least an hour if not more
  • For the dressing, mix together the soy sauce, lime juice, fish sauce, red chillies, garlic, a pinch of coriander leaves and brown sugar. Combine well so that the sugar is completely dissolved
  • Set aside and refrigerate till required
  • Meanwhile, in a bowl toss together the iceberg lettuce, chopped onions, mangetout, bean spouts, cucumbers, mint leaves and coriander leaves
  • Cover and refrigerate till needed. This keeps the salad fresh and crunchy
  • Before serving, lightly grease a pan with oil and as it begins to heat, add the chicken strips. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side
  • Once cooked, remove the chicken from the pan and let it cool slightly
  • Add the peanuts into the same pan and toast for 3-4 minutes
  • To serve, pour the dressing over the salad and mix thoroughly so that it is well coated with the dressing
  • Garnish with the sliced chicken strips, toasted chilli peanuts and chopped red chillies

National Salad Month: Thai Spicy Chicken Salad with Toasted Chilli Peanuts

For the best results prepare the salad and dressing 2-3 hours in advance and refrigerate. Cook the chicken and dress the salad just before serving. This gives all the flavors time to infuse together. You can choose to use chicken, beef or any other meat or seafood of your choice with this salad. It is a low-carb and low-fat option. If you want a more wholesome meal, you can opt to mix it in with some rice noodles as well. Not only is this salad healthy and delectable, it is culinary satiation with every bite.

National Salad Month: Thai Spicy Chicken Salad with Toasted Chilli Peanuts