Thai Style Salad

I like salad.  So what, you’ll probably say.  The strange thing is, I like eating salad when I go out, and I like preparing salad when I’m at home, but then I won’t eat it.  I know… weird, but that’s the way it is.  When I’m out and having a salad, I wonder why I don’t make it at home more often.  Then I get all excited, buy the ingredients, don’t mind standing in the kitchen for any amount of time preparing a salad.  All the prepping is very relaxing for me after a day at the office.  But when it’s ready to eat I’m not too keen on it.

One factor is probably the dressing.  I have lots of recipes for salad dressings but have only ever made one or two.  Maybe I’m too uninventive, unimaginative, I don’t know.  I just like it better when I can have it ready served at the restaurant.

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However, last year I came up with my very own creation – my own Thai Style Salad.  I was visiting a friend in Munich, and we went to Soup Mama where just looking at the salad menu made me want to order all of them.   I took a takeaway menu home with me for inspiration, looked at the ingredients of each salad to see what I liked and could try at home, then picked several ingredients from different salads, and the result was a darn good creation, if I may say so myself.

Last night one of my best friends came over.  I’ve been promising to make this salad for her for almost a year now.  As she’ll be leaving soon to live in Dubai, I thought it was high time to deliver on my promise.  Apparently she liked it, so E – here’s the recipe to take with you to your new faraway life!

This is an easy recipe, but I have a lot of comments so this will look elaborate – I promise it’s not.

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Thai Style Salad

250 g Pan Noodles (or any Asian noodles / pasta of your choice)
500 g chicken breast
spice of your choice to marinate
1 large iceberg lettuce
4 carrots
rice vinegar
peanut or walnut oil
ginger paste
chinese five-spice paste
juice and zest of 1 small lime
1 garlic clove
1 small red chilli
freshly ground black pepper
dried coconut strips
mint leaves

Feeds 2 very hungry people as a main course, or 4 as a starter

Cook the pasta.  [I cook it before I start on the salad preparations, because I like the pasta to have cooled down before I mix it into the salad.]

Cut the chicken breast in bite sized pieces and marinate with spices of your choice. [I usually mix a little oil with  Schwartz Thai 7 Spice, but I ran out of it and you can’t get it in Germany, so I use whatever I have at hand.  This time I used BBQ marinade powder from flava-it for the first time;  I also love their Garden Mint marinade.]

While the chicken marinates, cut the iceberg lettuce into bite sized pieces.  Peel carrots, discard peel, then go on peeling them down to the core to get carrot strips.

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For the salad dressing, mix rice vinegar with peanut or walnut oil [2:1 ratio, with a 3 fingers high amount of vinegar].  Add 1 – 2 tsp ginger paste and 1 – 2 tsp Chinese five spice paste. [That’s the amount I’ve come to like best after several trials, just use according to your taste.  When I have it, I sometimes add 1 tsp lemongrass paste.]  Add lime zest and juice.  Chop garlic and the chilli and add to dressing.  [I chop them together in my mini blender, then add 1 tsp at a time to determine how hot the chilli is.  Leftover mix keeps in the fridge for quite a long time.]  Add a turn or two of black pepper.

Fry the chicken until dark and blackened [I like it really dark, but fry to any degree you like it.  I use butter for frying.]

Assemble salad – mix together noodles, iceberg, carrots, add dressing, then add chicken pieces.

Chop the dried coconut strips together with fresh mint leaves [I use the mini blender for this as well] and sprinkle over the salad.

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