Asian Style Salad with Red Rice

I love salads that make a whole meal – perfect for hot summer nights that let you feel satisfied but not stuffed!

Asian Style Salad with shredded chicken on a bed of cooled red rice

Asian Style Salad with shredded chicken on a bed of cooled red rice

Tonights version included:

base – cooked red rice
mixed greens and fresh seasonal vegetables
poached shredded chicken (easily substitute prawns)
roasted peanuts and sesame seeds
slivered green onions

2 tbsp Thai sweet chile sauce
1/4 tsp chile flakes
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp raw sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 rounded tsp peanut butter
1 garlic clove

Blend all ingredients until smooth – gradually add in 1/4 cup peanut oil until well incorporated.

Every brand of these ingredients is different. Start from here and then taste it. I usually take a lettuce leaf and dip it in. If I don’t love it, keep adjusting! It should have a balance of sweet, salty, spicy and tangy ….

Thai Hot-Sour-Salty-Sweet Chicken

All Thai dishes should have a balance of hot/sour/salty/sweet. Whatever recipe you use, keep tasting and adjusting until you get that balance just right. I do a lot of Thai cooking, and we love it all – but this is the first recipe that our Thai student Ping claimed was exactly like chicken he eats at home.

hot-sour-salty-sweet Gotta get that balance in Thai cookery!

Gotta get that balance in Thai cookery!

1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tbsp asian fish sauce
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper (white if you have it)
1 garlic clove, minced
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp tamarind concentrate

Blend all ingredients together well – then add chicken.

This is enough to do 4 chicken breasts, or 8 chicken thighs. If using breasts I like to pound them lightly first – just enough to make them equal thickness which is easier to grill. Allow to marinate for whatever length of time you have – I have made this with only 1/2 an hour to marinate, and up to overnight.

Grill until cooked through – slice into strips and serve with dipping sauce.

2 tbsp tamarind concentrate
1/4 cup asian fish sauce
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 minced clove garlic
1 small Thai chile – seeded and minced
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp water
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Combine all ingredients except cilantro – TASTE!! Adjust to your preference, and if you like it really spicy, drizzle in a little chili oil. I have also drizzled on sesame oil to finish it. Once you have a good balance of flavour (which means you can’t stop yourself from continuing to taste) then stir in the cilantro.

Avocado Salad Dressing

Ever slice open an avocado to use in a salad and think …. yuck … half of this is disgusting????  That happened to me this week when I really had a craving to add creamy avocado to my salad.  After fuming for a moment I decided to turn it into a dressing.  I know I always say to taste taste taste – but it is really important to do that with this dressing – you really want it to pack a punch of flavour into a mouthful.  By the time you dilute it with all your salad ingredients you still need to get all that avocado party going on.

Avocado Salad Dressing

In a mortar and pestle combine:

avocado (1/2?)

grainy dijon mustard (1 tsp)

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp lime juice

Grind well until it is all creamy and bright – slowly drizzle in about 1/3 cup good quality olive oil and continue until it is all smooth.  (Yes, sure – you could do this in a blender, or a bullet, or just in a bowl)

Taste and adjust for seasonings.  If you like it a bit spicy, add a few chili flakes.  If you like garlic, add a garlic clove before you really start grinding it with the mortar and pestle.  You get the idea – add stuff you really like.  And – yes, that is a glass of wine in this photo – everything I make tastes better when I cook with wine!