Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mary's salad

My friend Mary {pictured in the Cheese Class post} gave me this delicious salad recipe. She said it is similar to one her mom makes and kind of like the Spring Roll Salad I made in January.

Mary's changes are noted by an * and the ingredient used, mutual changes are noted by an * and teal font and my changes are listed in brackets and teal next to the ingredient/instruction.

Mary's Salad
(Source: My friend Mary)

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
7 tablespoons fresh lime juice [I used lemon juice]
5 tablespoons fish sauce [so sad! I only had ~2 T of fish sauce in the bottle, so that was all I was able to use]
6 tablespoons rice vinegar *I used plain white vinegar*
3/4 cup cilantro leaves, shredded (stems reserved separately), about 1/2 bunch cilantro
3 tablespoons sugar [I used closer to 1 T]
2 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped [I used one serrano and one poblano pepper, I wish I had used 2 serrano]
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon grated wasabi, optional *omitted*
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
4 cups very thinly sliced cabbage [I just used a bag of cabbage coleslaw]
3 cups julienned carrots *omitted*
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, shredded
1/4 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, shredded *omitted*
2 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/4 cup finely chopped roasted salted peanuts *omitted*
*(Vegetables I added: snow/sugar snap peas sliced lengthwise, 1 red bell pepper sliced very thinly, 1 cucumber cut into matchsticks)
Crispy Shallots, recipe follows *omitted*

Place the chicken breasts in a medium saucepan and add enough water just to cover. Add 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce [I had to skip this part due to minimal fish sauce on hand], 1 tablespoon of the rice vinegar and the reserved cilantro stems and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the chicken to sit in the poaching liquid for 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from the liquid and allow it to cool completely. Transfer the chicken to an airtight container and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours and up to overnight. [I skipped the refrigeration portion of this step]

In a non-reactive bowl combine the remaining lime juice, fish sauce, rice vinegar, the sugar, chiles, garlic, red pepper, and wasabi, if using, and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

In a large bowl combine the cilantro leaves, onion, cabbage, carrots, mint leaves, and Thai basil leaves and toss to combine. Add 1/3 of the lime-chile mixture and toss. Let stand for 10 minutes, refrigerated, before serving.

Divide the salad evenly among 4 plates. Thinly slice the chicken breasts against the grain and divide evenly among the top of the salads. Garnish with the scallions, peanuts and crispy shallots and serve immediately, with the remaining lime-chile sauce on the side for dressing salads, to taste. *Instead of slicing the chicken, I shredded it into the same size as the sliced veggies. I found it to be too chewy and dry when it was just sliced. I mixed all the ingredients in a large bowl and added some of the dressing, tossed, tasted and ended up saving about 1/2 cup of the dressing.

[I made rice noodles for Rich's portion. He is not a huge lettuce/cabbage fan, so I figured he would prefer his to be on a bed of noodles. Though I have yet to perfect the art of making the rice noodles, he said it turned out okay.]

Mary's final advice was, "It tastes even better after you let it sit for a few hours in the fridge!" She is very right about that. I brought it to lunch the next day and it was even more flavorful!! [I might have been a little skimpy on the dressing the first time around, too. I would be a bit more generous the next time I make this... and there will be a next time!]

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