My Best friend Billy is one of my biggest food idols. He cooks the way I love to cook - without a recipe. He's the one who really got me into cooking and appreciating different types of cuisine. I'll never forget years ago, back in the day of me being a picky eater, I was invited out with Billy's family for his birthday. They were going to the top sushi restaurant in the city and as a birthday gift to Bill he asked me to try everything the chef put in front of me. I was so nervous! Before that evening I thought sushi was cucumber and california rolls. I had never tried raw fish and sea food was totally foreign to me. I did as Billy asked and tried everything the chef offered. Each course was more delicious then the last and thus a monster was born!
A few weeks back we were all up north for another of Billy's birthday extravaganzas. This year he decided to do a Vietnamese chicken salad which was a huge hit. Billy sent his dad to three different grocery stores to get the exact ingredients he needed. Do your self a favor and shop in kensington or the Loblaws on St. Clair as they have the best Asian selection of products.
chicken breasts - or whole chicken cut up if you prefer (skinless) for poaching
1/2 green (nappa or savoy) cabbage - thinly sliced (use cuisinart slicing blade if you have)
2 carrots - turned in to matchsticks (use cuisinart shredding blade if you have)
1/2 onion - thinly sliced (use cuisinart slicing blade if you have)
1 handful mint - torn
1 handful Kinh Gioi / Vietnamese mint (you can always use more regular mint if you cant find)
1 handful cilantro - torn or fine chopped if you're not crazy about the flavor
1 handful Húng quế / Thai basil (optional)
1/2 cup peanuts - toasted & chopped
1 cup shallots - fried
flour - for dusting the shallots before frying
canola oil - for frying
2 garlic cloves - minced
2 tbs ginger - minced
1 lime juiced
4 tbs rice wine vinegar
2 tbs fish sauce
3 tsp sugar
pinch of salt
PREP: All veg. and layer in a large bowl. In a small bowl mix all ingredients together for dressing - put to the side.
Take your super thinly sliced shallots and separate them so that they look like tiny onion rings. Toss them in a few tbs of ap (all purpose) flour.
COOK: To poach the chicken: In a medium heavy bottom pot place chicken with a few pepper corns (you can also ad some slices of ginger and garlic to the poaching liquid). Cover with water or chicken stock and bring to a boil. As soon as the liquid starts to boil drop the heat to a low simmer and partly cover the pot. Let cook for 10 minutes. Then turn off heat completely and allow chicken to stay in the hot water for another 20 mins.
To fry the shallots: Have a tray with paper towel on stand by. In a shallow pan fill with about 2 inches of canola oil. Heat oil and test one shallot to make sure oil is hot enough. You will want small bubbles start to form around the shallot immediately. When oil is ready drop a hand full of shallots into the oil (about 1 min per batch) * The shallots will burn very quickly so if they start turning brown too quickly slightly drop the heat. Fry in small batches. Make sure you have a slotted spoon or spider to transfer shallots from the hot oil. As soon as they turn golden brown transfer to the paper towel and salt while hot.
ASSEMBLE: Once chicken is cooked & shredded place ontop of the salad, then place peanuts fried shallots and fresh torn herbs on top of everything. Drizzle dressing over before serving.