Tangy Chicken and Vegetable Salad

Stir-fried chicken with blanched and raw vegetables is a dish hardly unique to Thai cookery – it is a staple item in many cuisines. What transforms this version into something uncommonly Thai is the dipping sauce that captures the essence of that cuisine. This makes a memorable starter or light luncheon dish.

Ingredients

  • 450 g (1 lb) boneless chicken breasts, skinned
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut (peanut) oil
  • 110 g (4 oz) carrots, thinly sliced
  • 225 g (8 oz) cucumber
  • 3 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
  • 110 g (4 oz) fresh beansprouts

Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • 2 small fresh red Thai chillies, seeded if desired, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce or light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Method

Cut the chicken breasts into 2.5 cm 1 in cubes. Combine them with the rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil and cornflour; refrigerate for about 20 minutes.

Heat a wok or large frying pan until it is hot, then add the groundnut oil. When the oil is slightly smoking, add the chicken pieces, stirring vigorously to keep them from sticking. When the chicken pieces turn white, after about 3 minutes, drain them in a stainless-steel colander set in a bowl. Discard the oil. Allow the chicken to cool.

Blanch the carrots in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain and set aside. Peel the cucumber, slice in half lengthways and, using a teaspoon, remove the seeds. Cut the flesh into thin slices. Arrange the carrots, cucumber, spring onions and beansprouts on a platter. Add the chicken.

Heat a non-stick wok or pan until it is hot. Then add the shallots, garlic and chillies, and dry-fry, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a blender together with the remaining sauce ingredients and purée. Allow to cool, then put in a small bowl and serve as a dipping sauce for the vegetables.

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