This reminds me of Vietnam, but I made it up. I wanted a really flavoursome, juicy and crunchy salad. So it’s really important to chop the shallot, celery, carrot and cucumber as finely as possible. I know I’m always banging on about texture in food, but it’s really important to the success of this dish too, as the vegetables almost become part of the dressing and wrap themselves round the strips of chicken.
Put the beansprouts, lettuce leaves, cabbage and pakchoy, in a really big bowl and drown in cold water.
100 g beansprouts
1 whole Cos leaves
few white cabbage leaves cut into wedges
1 x pak choy
2-3 Limes (You need about 4-5 tablespoons)
2 tablespoon palm or light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1 lemon grass, very finely sliced
1-4 birds eye chillies, extremely potent so add at your leisure
4 shallots or 1 small red onions
3-4 sticks celery, use the yellow ones taken from the centre of a celery head
1 large carrot
12 cherry tomatoes
350 g cooked chicken, shredded
3 Spring onions
a small handful fresh mint, Vietnamese mint if you can get it, but I used basic mint (about 10g)
handful fresh Thai basil, (or you could use some normal basil) torn (about 25 g with stalks)
50 g fresh coriander
unsalted roasted peanuts, optional
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Squeeze the juice from the lemon or lime into a large bowl and stir in the sugar, salt and 3 tablespoons of fish sauce. Slice the thickest part of the lemon grass as wafer thinly as possible, very finely chop the whole chilli and stir into the dressing.
2. Next you need to finely chop the shallots, celery and carrot, into 5 mm cubes. (I said finely!) The easiest way to do this with the carrot and celery, is to cut into in half across the middle, then slice into thin lengthwise strips. Cut across these to make tiny dice.
3. Next cut the tomatoes in half across their middles, then toss and stir into the salad. Using 2 forks pull the chicken into shreds and stir into the salad. Taste the salad and add more lime juice, (or lemon) and fish sauce to taste, and grind in some black pepper.
4. Cut the cucumber as the carrot and celery, and add to the bowl. Finely slice the spring onion and add that too.
5. Drain the leaves you’ve been soaking in water, and dry. Rip the lettuce leaves into the bowl with the pak choy, sliced thinly and toss into the salad with the cabbage leaves. Finally chop the mint, basil and coriander roughly and stir into the salad. Taste, adjust if needed and then serve asap.