Vietnamese Crispy Chicken Salad

  • For the Chicken
  • 4 large garlic cloves, not peeled
  • 1 thumb-sized piece root ginger, not peeled
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 green chilli, roughly chopped
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • Good handful of fresh coriander leaves and stalks
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (preferably Vietnamese)
  • 8 boneless chicken thighs, well trimmed (skin on)
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • For the Dressing
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (preferably Vietnamese)
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 small red Thai chilli, very finely chopped (remove the seeds if you don’t like the heat)
  • For the Salad
  • Good handful fresh mint leaves
  • Good handful fresh coriander leaves
  • 200g Chinese cabbage leaves, trimmed and finely shredded
  • 2 large carrots, cut into fine julienne (on a mandolin is best)
  • Good handful of salted peanuts, roughly chopped

1. To prepare the chicken, place the garlic and ginger on a grill rack and place under a hot grill to char on all sides. Leave to cool, then peel and roughly chop before putting into a pestle and mortar.

2. Toast the coriander seeds and star anise in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until they become aromatic. Tip into the pestle and mortar and add the chilli, lime zest and coriander. Bash to a paste, then mix in the lime juice and fish sauce.

3. Smear the paste all over the flesh side of the chicken thighs, then arrange on a plate and cover with cling film. Chill for at least 4 hours (or preferably overnight).

4. To cook the chicken, heat a large heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the sunflower oil to the pan, then place the chicken thighs in it skin-side down. Reduce the heat to very low and cook for 20-30 minutes until the skin is nice and crispy.

5. Don’t touch them while they are cooking or shake the pan, just leave them alone and you will produce the most fantastic crisp skin and succulent flesh.

6. When you can see that the chicken thighs are nicely browned and that the flesh is almost but not quite cooked through. Turn them over and cook for another 5-6 minutes until completely cooked through and tender. Transfer to a carving board and leave to rest for at least 5 and up to 10 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, mix all the dressing ingredients together and put to one side until needed. Put all the ingredients for the salad into a large bowl except the peanuts and toss lightly to combine, then toss to coat in the dressing.

8. To serve, divide the dressed salad onto plates and then quickly carve the chicken into slices and pile on top. Scatter over the peanuts to serve.

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