Get your taste buds dancing with this bright Thai Chicken Salad! The zesty chilli lime dressing with the signature South East Asian balance of sweet-sour-savoury and a little heat from chilli will make any salad exciting!
A THAI CHICKEN SALAD WITH BIG FLAVOURS!
Yowzer! This is about as far as you can get from bland, boring salads. I’m a huge fan of Asian salads because they are typically much lighter and fresher than many Western ones, and the dressings pack a great flavour punch.
And this one is no exception. It’s a chilli-lime Thai dressing that has that South East Asian signature sweet-salty-tangy balance with a little buzz of heat from chilli.
I know it looks really spicy because it’s red. But actually, it’s not that spicy because I make this using a store bought Chilli Garlic Sauce. You won’t find me eating this by the spoonful but actually, it’s not that spicy, it looks more dangerous than it is in reality. Go on, have a taste test! 1 teaspoon of this doesn’t even have the same amount of spiciness as 1 Thai or Birds Eye Chilli.
Chilli Garlic Sauce is a terrific trick for thickening dressings / sauces in the same way mustard does in Western dressings, as well as adding spiciness / garlic + some tang because it’s not just made with garlic and chilli. It’s pretty common nowadays, sold at all the supermarkets here in Australia in the Asian section. But don’t worry if you can’t find it, I’ve provided plenty of alternatives in the recipe (Sriracha, hot sauce (even Frank’s), fresh chillies, chilli paste, sambal oelak – loads of options!).
Ah yes, I almost forgot. The spice-adverse may be alarmed to see yet more chillies in the photo above – the finely sliced red chillies.
But fear not! Firstly, they are large red chillies that actually aren’t that spicy at all. Rule of thumb is: the larger the chilli, the less spicy they are, the smaller they are, the spicier they are.
Secondly, yes the finely julienned red chillies add a touch more heat into this salad and it looks pretty, but it’s not a deal breaker just to leave them out. I often do (mainly because I can’t be bothered with the extra chopping action!)
I honestly would not classify this salad as really spicy. The dressing is warm rather than spicy and I barely notice the fresh chilli tossed through the salad. If this was on a restaurant menu that had a spiciness indicator in the form of chilli icons, with 1 chilli being mild and 3 chillies being “blow your head off” spicy, this would be a 1 chilli dish. You won’t be wiping sweat beads off your forehead and guzzling ice water / beer, cursing me silently (or out loud). 😉 Promise! – Nagi x
PS The sweet, soft crunchy of the cashews is seriously great in this. Other nuts will be just fine, but the cashews really make it. I just realised there’s no mention of them, so I thought I better sneak in a point before I sign off!
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Thai Chicken Salad
- 180 - 220 g / 6 -7oz chicken breast
- 150 g / 5 oz mixed lettuce leaves (or other of choice)
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes , halved
- 1 small cucumber , sliced
- 1/4 red onion , finely sliced
- 1/2 large red chilli , deseeded and very finely sliced (Note 1)
- 1/2 cup roasted cashews , unsalted preferred
- 1/4 cup coriander / cilantro leaves
Thai Chilli Lime Dressing:
- 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander/cilantro stems (see video)
- 1 1/2 tsp Chilli Garlic Sauce (Note 2)
- 1 small garlic , minced
- 1 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice (or rice vinegar)
- 2 tsp fish sauce (Note 3)
- 1 tbsp canola oil (or vegetable, grapeseed or other neutral oil)
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar (any, I use white)
- Take the chicken out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.
- Boil water in a saucepan. Add chicken, put the lid on, let the water come back up to a simmer, then remove from stove. Set aside for 20 minutes (even up to 45 min is fine). (Note 4)
- Remove chicken from water and shred, then cool.
- Place ingredients in a jar. Shake well. Taste and adjust as required. It should be a balance of tangy / sweet / salty / hint of spice. (Note 5)
- Place Salad ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle over most of the Dressing, toss. Serve immediately, drizzled with remaining Dressing.
LIFE OF DOZER
He spends a lot of time in this position.