There’s no doubt about it, spring has finally arrived. The windows are open and the mood in our kitchens is more optimistic and light than just a few weeks ago when we found ourselves stranded on a culinary desert island with empty wallets, heavy moods and night after night of bland suppers. We both slightly lost the will to be inventive with our stocks and deprived ourselves of flavour and colour for what felt like an eternity (could just have been a few days we can’t be sure!) We’re pleased to report this distressing period of food writer’s block is over and we’re full of the joys and flavours of spring, eager to launch some fresh new recipes for these lighter nights.
Having said that, the first salad of spring isn’t actually our own but it’s so damn good it deserves its own post. Last Thursday, the lovely Miss Lovell got six of us ladies together to toast the sexy new refit at Rosie’s Deli Café with a collaborative, after-hours supper amidst the wet paint and sawdust. We all brought something to the table–beer, fizz, cheese, three salads, bread, brownies and some amazing salty chocolate balls. This feast couldn’t have come at a better time, in the midst of our poverty-ridden dry spell, and one salad in particular was our salvation–like being given a sip of cool water after weeks of drought.
Grace’s Cha Cha Chicken Salad
The key ingredient for this salad is the Toasted Sesame Dressing (formerly known as Cha Cha Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing), a Kosher-Chinese special made by American company Soy Vay. I tracked it down here but, looking at the ingredients, you could probably make something similar yourself with a blend of sesame oil, sugar, vinegar, toasted sesame seeds, mustard and ginger powder.
4 skinless chicken breasts (or you could use leftover roast chicken)
1 iceberg lettuce, finely shredded
100g flaked almonds, toasted
Large handful chopped coriander
Half a bottle of Toasted Sesame Dressing (or your own blend as above)
One fiery red chilli, finely chopped
Cut the chicken into strips and poach in simmering water or steam for 10 minutes until tender and cooked through. Allow to cool and then finely shred with your finger nails (clean ones obviously). This is quite time consuming, but the finer the shreds, the tastier the salad. Put in a bowl and pour on the dressing, being sure to coat and turn the chicken. Cover and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight if you have the time. When you’re ready to serve the salad, put the chicken into a large salad bowl, add the lettuce, coriander, chilli and flaked almonds and toss delicately with your hands, being careful not to break up the lettuce too much. Serve with rice, noodles, bread or as part of a bigger feast and a cold beer is a must. Quite literally our saving grace.