Wednesday 16 January 2013

Shredded Chicken, Green Bean and Coconut Salad

It's summer here in Australia and I should be thinking picnics but, don't judge me, I really don't like picnics.  I should love picnics, I love the idea; eating outside, a stack of containers, an excuse for an entirely separate set of picnic specific crockery, napkins, blankets, baskets... Spurred on by nostaglic memories of my grandparents caravan I even bought a set of vintage anodised cups in a cute zippered case (sadly no opener) fully intending to put them to use.  I haven't, picnics for me are like packed school lunches, whatever I pack is transformed into a vastly less appealing version of itself when it reaches its destination. Maybe if I drank more it wouldn't bother me, the picnic, not the school lunch, I'd have issues with school lunches even if I knocked back vodka with my muesli...

Fresh produce in Melbourne is abundant and beautiful, and in my post Christmas "anti cooked anything" frame of mind I was drawn to the leafy herbs and limes, perfect for this summer salad. I also bought a few of those cute, gold foil wrapped Lindt bears at a ridiculously reduced price, it's all about balance :)

This salad is one of those dishes that at first seems perfectly ok but as you continue eating, the flavours and textures mingle becoming more complex and something rather special. Eat at the table, outside or pack, in many containers, transport then assemble at the picnic spot of choice, it's a winner.

Chicken broth

2 chicken breasts
2 cups coconut cream
2 cups chicken stock
100ml fish sauce
100ml oyster sauce
1 tbsp caster sugar
10 kaffir lime leaves
2 stalks lemon grass, bashed with back of a knife and sliced
5cm piece of galangal, peeled and sliced, substitute with ginger if the elusive galangal cannot be found


200g green beans, topped, tailed and sliced on the diagonal
2 red chillies, seeded and finely sliced
100g packaged, moist shredded coconut, or freshly shredded coconut flesh if you are that way inclined
2 red shallots, peeled and finely sliced
2 kaffir leaves, finely shredded
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, finely sliced
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup coriander leaves
1/2 cup thai basil leaves


100ml coconut cream
100ml reserved broth
1 clove garlic
3 small green chillies, bird's eye if you can get them
50 ml fish sauce
1 tsp caster sugar
juice of 1/2 a lime

crispy fried shallots
lime wedges

put coconut cream and stock in a large pot bring to boil, add lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, fish sauce, oyster sauce and sugar leave to infuse for 5 minutes, is an unpleasant grey/brown but smells amazing

rinse chicken and pat dry, add to simmering coconut broth and poach for 25-30 minutes on a low heat • start to check chicken after 20 mins, when ready remove the chicken and drain on a rack  strain broth, keep 100ml for the dressing  using your asbestos fingers, shred the chicken into long, thin strips

steam the green beans, cool slightly and toss with the other salad ingredients

for the dressing; combine the reserved broth with the coconut cream in a medium sized pan and heat gently  in a mortar and pestle bash the garlic and chillies to a paste, add to the broth/coconut cream combo with the mixture simmering gently, add the fish sauce and sugar  add the chicken and warm through • take off the heat and add the lime juice

(now my picnic prejudice aside, at this point if the salad and chicken were packed in separate containers I do believe this dish would transport well, adding the chicken to the salad and tossing together immediately before you plan to eat)

pour the chicken over the salad, toss, sprinkle with crispy fried shallots, serve with lime wedges and enjoy!

recipe very slightly adapted from the brilliant Longrain Modern Thai Food by Martin Boetz.  We are so lucky in Sydney and Melbourne to have such a range of fantastic restaurants and Longrain is one I come back to again and again, spicy thai food and cocktails, what's not to like?



Petra said...

Thanks for sharing Sally! Loopings vorwarf to making this tomorrow.

simmer and boyle said...

thanks Petra, hope you liked it ;)

Sneh | Cook Republic said...

Another day of this gorgeous salad! I swear if no one has any allergies, restrictions .. then this is on all of the workshop menus. Bookmarking this to try myself. Thanks lovely! xx

simmer and boyle said...

a new tradition! thank you lovely ☺️