It seems I’ve gotten a bit out of the habit of making salads, so I am trying to do more of them this winter, which is never the easiest time for salads but it can be done. It helps that I’ve been really quite impressed with the greenhouse lettuce I’ve been getting this winter. There is a lot more variety of types than there used to be, and the quality seems better too – more substantial. The price is still higher than imported lettuce, but given how the droughts down south have been driving up prices, the differential is better there too than it used to be.
At any rate, this salad has been a regular this winter. All the flavours of a Vietnamese fresh spring roll in a salad, with a little grilled chicken to make it a meal. You could replace the chicken with beef, pork, or tofu for a change if you liked.
1 hour prep time
Make the Dressing:
1 clove of garlic
the finely grated zest of 1/2 lime
the juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon chile-garlic sauce
Peel and mince the garlic and put it in a small bowl or jam jar. Wash the lime, and grate the zest into the container with the garlic. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Set aside.
Make the Salad:
2 bundles cellophane noodles
2 cups bean sprouts
1 medium carrot
2 mini greenhouse cucumbers
1 cup finely shredded cabbage
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
500 grams (1 pound) skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 tablespoon bacon fat or mild vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely chopped peanuts (optional)
Prepare the cellophane noodles according to instructions, or soak them in boiling water for about 10 minutes, until there are no white bits left and they are completely translucent. Drain well, and cut them with scissors into manageable pieces. Put them in your salad bowl.
Wash and drain the bean sprouts very well.
Peel and grate the carrot. Trim and grate the cucumbers. Trim the cabbage and shred it finely. Rinse and drain it well.
Wash, dry, and chop the mint and cilantro.
All these vegetables go into the salad bowl, being sure to leave the sprouts and cabbage until well drained. Toss well and divide amongst individual plates.
Cut the chicken into bite-sized strips. Heat the fat or oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook, stirring regularly, until done; about 5 to 7 minutes. Let them cool for a few minutes before arranging them over the salads. Drizzle over the dressing, sprinkle with chopped peanuts if desired, and serve.