Burmese Chicken Salad, Turmeric, Chilli, Lime, Peanuts
This Burmese chicken salad recipe has bags of flavour. Gluten and dairy-free, it combines poached chicken with crunchy vegetables, fish sauce, chilli and lime.
The origins of this salad come from Burma, via a restaurant in Christchurch, New Zealand, called the Bohdi Tree. Our head chef at Caravan Exmouth Market, Nick Anderson, used to talk about this salad as one of the best things ever. We asked him to come up with a version and this is what happened. It has been on and off our menus for years with slight alterations each time, but this is our favourite version. If you have trouble finding green papaya or kohlrabi, you can replace these ingredients with cucumber, celery, thinly sliced cabbage or unripe or green mango.
|4||skinless chicken breasts, ideally free range|
|1 tbsp||nam pla (fish sauce)|
|40g||fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced|
|2||large carrots, peeled and julienned|
|60g||spinach leaves, sliced|
|½||green papaya, julienned|
|1||red chilli, sliced|
|1||handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped|
|1||handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped|
|100g||peanuts, toasted and crushed|
|For the dressing:|
|200ml||vegetable oil or other neutral-flavoured oil|
|1||large brown onion, thinly sliced|
|2||garlic cloves, thinly sliced|
|20g||fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped|
|1 tsp||ground turmeric|
|1 tsp||hot smoked paprika|
|Zest of 3 limes|
|80ml||nam pla (fish sauce)|
First poach the chicken. Place the chicken breasts in a single layer into a pan – ideally the breasts should fit quite snugly on the bottom of the pan. Pour over 750ml water, or enough to just cover the breasts. Add the fish sauce, ginger and coriander stalks. Place over a high heat to bring the liquid to the boil quickly, then reduce the heat to as gentle a simmer as your stove allows. Cover with a lid and allow to simmer gently for 8 minutes. Turn the heat off and set aside with the lid on for a further 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the liquid and set aside to cool. Once cool, shred the chicken, making sure to tear the breasts lengthways to ensure long strips of meat. Set aside.
To make the dressing, heat a little of the vegetable oil in a pan over a medium heat and gently sweat the onions, garlic and ginger for 5–10 minutes until everything has completely softened but not browned.
Add the remainder of the oil to the pan with the turmeric and paprika and simmer for a few minutes so that the spices lose their ‘raw’ taste. Transfer the contents of the pan to a bowl and allow to cool completely. When completely cooled, add the lime zest and juice and fish sauce to the bowl and mix to combine. Taste and adjust with more lime juice or fish sauce as you see fit. Store the dressing in the fridge until ready to use – it will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
To assemble the salad, mix the shredded chicken in a large bowl with the carrot, spinach, green papaya and kohlrabi. Add the dressing, chilli and herbs and mix well. Transfer the salad to a serving dish and sprinkle crushed peanuts over the top to serve.
We use a mandolin to prepare our julienned vegetables so that we get super-long spaghetti-style strips. If you don’t have a mandolin, use a vegetable peeler to create long strips, which you can fold.