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Recipe: Fragrant Chicken Salad

Celia Hay Fragrant Chicken Salad

I call this recipe fragrant because it uses the aromatic herbs of mint and coriander (or alternatively, basil). The marinade in this recipe is based on infusing the chicken with crushed lemongrass. Lemongrass is one of those aromatic greens that seems to cope with being frozen so I always have some in the freezer ready to use.  It will usually defrost within 10 minutes. It is important to massage your chicken with the lemongrass and oil. It may look a bit strange but this way, the flavour of the lemongrass will be absorbed.

Salad

Dressing

Chilli, small, de-seeded and sliced
1 clove Garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp Lime juice
2 Tbsp Fish sauce
1 Tbsp Brown sugar
1 Tbsp Canola oil
3 Tbsp

Almonds, or peanuts, toasted

Directions

  • Slice the chicken lengthways into thin strips. 
  • With the back of a knife, crush the lemongrass then slice lengthways. Place in a bowl with the oil. 
  • Add the sliced chicken and massage with the lemongrass and oil for one minute. 
  • Cover and leave to macerate for 30 minutes.
  • Place the cabbage, spring onion, carrot, radish, sprouts and mint and coriander leaves in a bowl. 
  • For the dressing, whisk the chilli, garlic, lime juice, fish sauce and brown sugar together then whisk in the oil. 
  • Roughly crush the almonds or peanuts and add to the dressing. 
  • Heat a frying pan until hot. Remove the lemongrass from the chicken prior to cooking as you do not cook this. 
  • Add the chicken to the pan, season with salt and cook for 3 minutes. Turn and season again. Turn off and cover with a lid to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Toss the dressing through the chicken and salad.

Tip:

You need to look after fragrant herbs. They will lose their special smell if they are cut early and left on the bench to oxidise and will go brown or grow limp in the fridge. These days, supermarkets offer herbs in little planters and this is by far the best way to keep herbs fresh. Ideally they should be kept on a bench and not in the refrigerator as this can “burn” the delicate leaves. Herbs with woody stems — thyme, rosemary, sage— are more robust and can retain their character longer. If you do buy packets of herbs, it is a good idea to refresh them by washing the herbs quickly in a bowl of cold water. I then re-cut the stems and place the herbs in a container of water, cover with a plastic bag and put into the fridge. This gives the herbs a drink and the plastic bag prevents fridge burn. The herbs will last longer as a consequence.

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CHEF FINN GYBEL  Originally from Denmark, Finn trained as a chef in leading Danish restaurants before heading to New Zealand with his family two years ago.

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Celia Hay

Celia Hay's fascination of flavoursome food, international cuisines,  fine wine and the art of hospitality led her to establish *Hay's Restaurant* in 1994 and the *New Zealand School of Food and Wine* in 1995 in Christchurch, New Zealand.

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