from one generation to the next
I’ve moved two thousand kilometres to the north and the stacks of unpacked removalist boxes tell me I need more cupboard space. I don’t have a well organized high tech cook’s kitchen like the one I left in Melbourne, more a renovation project for the near future, but it’s all I have so for now and it’s mine.
With the warmer climate, I see my cooking inspiration skewing away from Europe, deeper into south east Asia, focusing more on the ingredients of Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and fanning into India, China and Japan. I anticipate fresh leafy greens, fragrant herbs, seafood and tropical fruits will be the basis of my meals. I reckon my wok will get a serious workout, the char grill, mandolin, mortar and pestle too. Already I’m sensing I’ll be planning food that’s quick to cook, fresh, light food with zesty flavours and crunchy textures.
After relying on local cafes for sustenance for a few days I filled our borrowed fridge and restocked the pantry shelves. We discovered a bellissimo Italian deli, an artisan baker, and the Standard Market Company, a high end food store with inhouse cheese and beef aging rooms and row upon row of quality Australian groceries. Even the local supermarket seemed to be a cut above the average. Whew, my relief is palpable. Next week hopefully I’ll have the energy to visit my local Farmers Market.
By the end of each day I’m exhausted. A chicken with a sound pedigree seemed a sensible purchase because the tender juicy and tasty meat of a gently poached chicken is wonderful shredded and added to quickly prepared salads. It will get me through a few days.
A rushed lunch at a close by cafe inspired this salad. Their version included duck and was served in flaky roti bread, but it was the fresh herbs and the subtle but unmistakable flavour of hoi sin sauce that got my creative juices flowing.
Chicken Salad with Fragrant Herbs and Hoi Sin Dressing
2 poached chicken breasts
1 cup each flat leaf parsley, mint, coriander and basil leaves
1/2 Lebanese cucumber
1/2 red capsicum
10 snow peas
1/3 cup peanuts, crushed
1 large carrot, cut into fine julienne
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons boiling water
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons hoi sin sauce
3 teaspoons chilli oil
3 teaspoons peanut oil
2 teaspoon fish sauce
2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Firstly prepare the pickled carrot. Dissolve the salt and sugar in the boiling water. Stir in the vinegar then pour the mixture over the carrot. Allow to rest for 30 minutes then thoroughly drain.
Finely shred the chicken breast with your fingures tearing along the natural grain. Set aside.
Pick the leaves from the herbs, wash and spin dry.
Very finely slice the radishes and cucumber, a mandolin makes this job easy.
Trim the membranes from the red capsicum, top and tail the snow peas. Cut both into fine julienne.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, toss together the herbs, drained carrot, radish and cucumber slices, capsicum and snow pea julienne. Add 2/3 of the dressing and lightly toss.
Add the chicken and toss to combine.
Tranfer to a serving platter, scatter crushed peanuts over and serve with extra sauce on the side.
Serves 4 for lunch