Ah that’s better, the sky is blue, the sun is out and there is no longer a need for my jacket. Spring is here folks, although a little late it has finally entered our lives once again and I couldn’t be more excited. Getting excited over a season might sound a little strange but let me assure you there is a good reason. Spring marks the end of what has become affectionately known as comfort foods, yeah you know soups, slow cooked meats, rich delicious pasta, I could go on and on but I wont 🙂 (This is the down side to spring, not the good side, I’m getting to that). As we lose our beloved comfort food, we gain an array of amazing fruits and vegetables to cleanse and re-energise our body to help lose the winter bulge. Over the coming month, the vegetables below will be at their peak flavour wise and at the cheapest price. It’s a win win situation for you.
- Spring onions
Lets face it, spring and summer are the two seasons of the year where we all can enjoy a deliciously fresh salad. Imagine this, the sun is shining, it’s a perfect 27.2’c, you’re outside under your patio, music fills the airwaves, your friends are over, you have an ice-cold beer/wine in one hand and you are tucking into a beautiful salad with the other (sounds perfect doesn’t it?). I’m not talking about the salads my mum use to make, the boring ones with lettuce cheese and tomato. Get creative and think outside of the box. Think about making a Mexican salad, Asian salad you could even go down the path of the more traditional salads. Try experimenting with different dressings. What ever it is you decide, try not to make it too complicated but don’t make it too boring either (mum I hope you are reading this 🙂 ) it’s all about finding the perfect balance. You want your dressing to pack a punch when tried on its own as it mellows out when you mix it through the salad. A traditional dressing is three parts oil one part acidity, but mess around with it and find the perfect balance, it’s all about the taste.
Now, I bring you to my Thai Coconut Chicken Salad. This salad combines the flavours of Asia into one fresh, crunchy mouthful of delicious goodness. The chicken is poached in coconut milk, ginger, palm sugar and coriander roots. The aroma will fill your house and get everyone’s appetite raging. The real secret to this dish, is the mountain blend rice which combines long grain brown rice, black rice and red rice. Not only is it visually stunning but the flavour and texture the rice adds to the salad is unbeatable. Once the rice is cooked, the chicken is poached, all you need to do is chop up a selection of fresh spring veggies and make a simple dressing. Get ready to impress yourself and your friends with this flavour combination. 🙂
Thai Coconut Chicken Salad
What you’ll need:
1 cup mountain blend rice
2 cups of water
2 chicken breasts
1 can coconut milk – 400 ml (placed in fridge overnight)
1 tablespoon of palm sugar
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, roughly chopped
2 coriander stems, roughly chopped
2 spring onions, sliced
150g snow peas, sliced lengthways (leave some whole if you like)
1 cucumber, use a julienne peeler and peel down to the seeds
2 carrots, again peel with the julienne peeler (if you don’t have one cut thin match sticks)
1 red chilli, julienned
1 handful of coriander leaves
1 handful of mint leaves
1 lime to serve
1 tablespoon palm sugar crushed
1 tablespoon water
reserved coconut cream (see number 3 in the method)
2 tablespoons tom yum chilli paste
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
- Rinse the rice well, add to saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, leave covered and reduce to a simmer for 35 minutes. After 35 minutes, turn off the heat and let the rice sit covered for 10 minutes. Then allow to cool.
- Slice the chicken in half lengthways so they are even thicknesses. Add to a saucepan with the palm sugar, ginger and coriander stalks.
- Open the coconut milk and scoop out the thick cream that has risen to the top, set the cream aside and add the milk to the saucepan with the chicken.
- Bring the chicken to the boil and then simmer for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, remove from heat and sit covered for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes remove chicken and allow to cool.
- For the dressing, combine the palm sugar and water and place over a medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes until the sugar has dissolved.
- Once the sugar is dissolved add the coconut and tom yum chilli paste and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Remove saucepan from heat and add the fish sauce and lime juice. Taste for the balance of salty, sweet, acidity and chilli.
- Combine all the prepared salad into a bowl with the cooled rice. Use two forks (or clean hands) to shred the chicken into the bowl and mix well.
- Just before you are ready to eat, add the dressing and mix through.