Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Over here the school holidays have begun. I greet these with a mix of joy at getting away from the humdrum routine of the school drop off, pick up and school lunches; and pain at the thought of not getting any time to do what I need to do as well as the knowledge that I will be spending way more money keeping the boys occupied as well as restocking rapidly depleting stocks of food, (it's amazing what they can go through in a day). Luckily (or unluckily) for me I have a week off and the way my shifts work out mean that I don't have to be back at work until the weekend night shifts in the second week. Mostly though I have to admit that I do love the school holidays...but don't tell the boys that!

I usually do a lot of baking during the holidays especially with Harry as he loves to be in the kitchen and reading my cookbooks to find something he wants us to make. So far we have done a big fat zero BUT it's only the beginning and we did start the holidays off with Reuben's birthday bash so there really hasn't been any time for it. Today we are off to see 'Despicable Me' at the movies and do a bit of shopping so the boys can spend some of their own money so no doubt all there will be time for will be to cook dinner and that's it. Tomorrow and the next day Harry and his little friend from school Maisy are going to a holiday programme for a couple of ours each day called 'Kids Zumba and Hip Hop Gaga'. I know they will love it. It's amazing how fast the holidays go really and how fast the days just fill up.

Anyway to the subject of this post. Last night I thought we could all do with a healthy dinner and this recipe is one which I have made a lot. I know the boys love it and I put in rice noodles to add a bit more oomph to the dish and to make it more filling. I have served this for lunch with friends and it is a perfect light lunch dish as well as a great dinner dish especially in the summer. I love the flavours of Vietnamese food. I think it would have to be my favourite over all the other Asian food....although Thai comes a close second. It's fresh and clean flavours really appeal to me and the whole family. I think the chopped nuts add a necessary component to the salad and take the flavour to a whole new level.

The main recipe is based on and adapted from a Bill Granger recipe from 'Bills Open Kitchen'. I kind of mix it up adding noodles (or not) and altering the dressing recipe a bit according to my taste. For this salad I used chicken thigh cutlets. Normally I poach chicken breasts in Asian flavours (like kaffir lime leaves, lemon rind, salt, ginger), but I find that it's easy to take it that bit too far and the chicken can dry out. The thighs were fantastic. I poached them the same way and they were moist and delicious (I think the dark meat is always more tasty anyway). Anyway it is well worth giving it a go and because it has almost no fat in it you can totally justify pudding afterwards. 

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