As summer blasts into London with a wave of humid, sticky, sunshine-filled days some of the traditional English dishes can seem, well, a touch heavy. Not that we don’t have our fair share of light dishes, particularly in our modern culinary vernacular, but let’s be honest we don’t get that much sunshine. So why not turn to Eastern Asia and the hot, humid climes of Thailand for some inspiration on the few similar days a year we get.
Firstly, I doubt this is particularly authentic, I’ve mashed up a few different cuisines (and the noodles are definitely Japanese) but I think the intention is clear and recognisable as Thai. It has fresh raw ingredients; a clean fierce heat from chilli; and a salty-sweet-sharp warmth from the fish sauce / sugar / lime marinade. I’m sure you could vary the ingredients endlessly, different cuts of chicken or prawns would work well for the protein and some shredded cabbage wouldn’t go amiss. Even better it’s a super quick recipe, start to finish 30 minutes if you work fast. It came out great and looked somewhat like this:
Being targeted as a “healthy” recipe I have poached skinless chicken breasts for pure lean protein but feel free to substitute as you wish if that is a tad puritan for you. It also has quite a fierce heat from 2 red hot chillis and a slight pungency from the fish sauce so adjust to taste. I’ve also made use of the carrot greens which are like a slightly carroty parsley and add some greenery, freshness and colour.
Ingredients (serves 2)
- 2 skinless chicken breasts
- 4 medium carrots scrubbed (preferably with a handful of the reserved greens)
- 1 medium red onion
- 8 small radishes
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- Juice and zest of 1 lime
- 2 birds-eye chillies or other hot chilli
- 2 tablespoons of castor sugar (golden preferably)
- 1 portion of noodles (I used Udon)
- 8 leaves of mint if you have any.
Firstly get the chicken poaching, this is a great way to easily get moist healthy chicken. The most fool-proof method I have found is to place the chicken breasts in a pan of cold water that covers them by 1cm or so. Bring to the boil and simmer for 4 minutes. Then turn the heat off, cover the pan and leave for 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the breasts. You can chuck some whole star anise / peppercorns in although I always wonder how much this really adds.
In the meanwhile you can prep the marinade, simply mix the lime juice / zest with the fish sauce and sugar, adjust to taste. To prep the salad I used a food processer with the grating attachment. I actually used the finest setting but think I’d recommend the coarser one next time. Grate the carrots / radishes / onion / chillis together and take out any big chunks left over. Mix the combined vegetables with the marinade, add the chopped carrot tops / mint if using and combine well.
Once your chicken is nearly ready, cook the noodles (try not to overcook them to avoid them being mushy). Drain and rinse well and mix in with the salad. Your chicken should be ready now, drain, shred with your hands and combine everything. Check for seasoning, adjust if needed with salt or fish sauce and serve. Feel healthy.