bits and pieces

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

KaPOW!! Summery, Spicy, Asian-y Chicken Salad

Summer sun... picnic table... fresh and spicy salad. Ommmmm... (nom nom nommmm).

Ahhhh summer. It may be mid-July, but here in Saskatchewan it has only just started to feel like summer. You know, hot days, warm evenings, wasting away in Margeritaville... all that jazz. With summer comes BBQ, outdoor activities, CFL, walks around the lake, BBQ, looking longingly out your office window, and more BBQ.

If you're getting a little tired of the hotdog and hamburger circuit - never fear! You're not alone. After eating 2 BBQ burgers at work last week (thanks to Bon Burger and Rock 'a' Grill!), I was feeling a little burger-ed out. I remembered that along with outdoor cooking, summer is also full of wonderful produce and ample opportunity to eat light, fresh meals without the delightful hint of charcoal. 

This salad is a meal and a half. Seriously. I made it with some jumbo shrimp (as I'm still not on the meat wagon), and ate half of it for dinner and then brought it to work and ate it again. Technically, I suppose that makes it TWO meals. And the best part is that besides being delicious and getting even BETTER overnight, it won't leave you feeling like you're the pulled pork in a pulled pork sammich nor will you feel left out of fresh summer feasts. 

I make this recipe with shrimp, but I've included it here with chicken as I realize not everyone has a steady supply of 6/8 shrimp in their freezer. If you opt to make it with shrimp, just ensure that you only marinate them for about an hour. With shellfish and some delicate seafood, over-marinating can 'burn' them and turn your marinated awesome into a rubbery impromptu ceviche. 


chicken: I typically use chicken thighs as they have way more flavour and 'oomph' than your bland old breasties. But if you're being diet conscious or you like those bland old chicken breasts, then breast away! I will use 2 chicken thighs per salad, or one breast. 

dressing/marinade for 2 servings: 

4 minced green onions
3 tbsp sesame oil
1 cup canola oil
1/4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 clove garlic, minced
2 inches of ginger, minced
1 tbsp of siracha sauce 
2 tbsp honey/sugar

salad ingredients: 

+2 cups of roughly chopped baby spinach. I love my greens, so I will eat about 4 cups of spinach if left to my own devices. You might not be such a Popeye, so as with all salads - do what feels right. 
1 cup of broccoli slaw. Grocery stores sell this now and it is GLORIOUS. All the benefits of broccoli slaw with none of the work. 
1 cup diced broccoli florets. Yep. More broccoli. This edible cabbage is maybe the world's first man-made plants. That's right - Wikipedia informed me that broccoli was engineered through careful breeding in the 6 century BCE. History AND Vitamin C. 
1/2 a red pepper, diced finely
1/4 of a cucumber thinly sliced or diced
1/4 cup of cashews (if you don't have cashews or they're a bit out of your nut price range, slivered almonds also work really well)
1/8 cup of green onion
2 tbsp of cilantro to garnish (optional for all you cilantro haters)
1/4 cup of dried cranberries to garnish (love those craisins)
1/2 a cup of chow mein noodles to garnish. You read right, chow mein noodles. They are crunchy, devoid of any nutrients or flavour, but they are crunchy and make this salad extra nice. 

  1. Make your dressing and shake it up like a polaroid picture. 
  2. Divide your dressing. Take half of it and marinate the heck out of your chicken with it. The best way to marinate for meat (excluding fish and shellfish) is overnight. If I have any forethought I do these up the night before and let them get reallll tangy and spicy. 
  3. After a suitable marinating period, cook your chicken. I like to BBQ in summer, so if it's lovely out I'll throw these on the grill basting them with the marinade. If you're not into "Q-ing", you can also bake these or pan sear them. At 350 degrees, a chicken breast will take about 30 minutes in the oven. On the BBQ, you can preheat your grill to about 450, toss your chicken breasts or thighs on. Cook for 2 minutes to get some nice char marks, turn and cook for another 2 minutes. Lower the temperature and they'll take about 15 minutes more. 
  4. Once you have your chicken a cookin', you are ready to make your salad. I assemble this while my chicken is on the grill. Take the other half this dressing, add 1 heaping tbsp of natural peanut butter. I like my dressings quite tart but if you like a little sweet to go with your sour, adding some additional brown sugar or honey at this point is a great idea.  
  5. Mix all your salad ingredients together in a big bowl, reserving some of the garnish and cashews to decorate with. 
  6. Add some dressing and toss to coat. 
  7. Dish out your salad, top with your remaining garnishes. Slice your chicken meat, and place lovingly on top of your salad and drizzle with remaining dressing (NOT marinade. No samonella > samonella). 
  8. Present to your enraptured dining partners, accept their compliments gracefully and chow down. 

note: to make this gluten-free - just leave out the chow mein noodles. To make this vegetarian - you guessed it, skip the chicken (you're such a smartie!). To make it vegan - surprise! No chicken and opt for sugar or a substitute in lieu of honey. 

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