Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 16 minutes
Total Time: 26 minutes
Yield: SERVES 2 for dinner
- 1/2 lb. chicken breast, chopped up into small pieces OR ground chicken (OR pork or turkey)
- 4 Tbsp. uncooked sticky rice or Japanese sweet rice, OR 3-4 Tbsp. chopped peanuts or cashews
- 1 shallot, OR 1/4 cup chopped onion
- optional: 4 kaffir lime leaves, cut into thin slivers with scissors
- 4-5 loose cups fresh arugula OR other garden greens of your choice
- 10-15 mint leaves, chopped up fine
- 3 green onions, sliced
- handful of fresh basil
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cucumber, sliced or diced
- 2 Tbsp. fish sauce for frying chicken
- juice of 1 lime (1/4 cup)
- 4 Tbsp. fish sauce
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 to 1 fresh minced red chili OR 1/3 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili
- Combine all salad dressing ingredients together in a cup or bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar. Set aside.
- Combine all the cold salad ingredients in a large salad bowl (arugula/salad greens, mint, green onions, basil, red pepper, and cucumber). If using nuts, set aside for later. For rice instructions, see instructionsbelow. Set aside.
- Place 1-2 Tbsp. oil in a wok/frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, chicken, and lime leaf (if using). As you stir-fry, add the fish sauce. Also add a little water if the wok/pan becomes dry. Stir-fry until chicken is cooked (8-10 minutes).
- Transfer the hot chicken to the salad bowl with prepared salad ingredients. Pour over the dressing and toss well. Finally, add the chopped nuts or ground roasted rice, if using (see below for instructions).
- Taste-test the salad, adding more fish sauce if you prefer it saltier/more flavorful (I usually add 1-2 Tbsp, but I like mine a little on the salty side). Add more dried crushed chili if you prefer it spicier. If too bitter, add a little more sugar.
- Garnish with more mint or basil leaves, or some edible flowers (here I've used a few fresh pansies from my garden. Other edible flowers include violas, rose petals, or nasturiums). Serve immediately while chicken is still warm, and ENJOY!
Ground toasted rice is traditionally added to this salad. Personally, I find the dish just as delicious without it, or with ground or chopped nuts added instead. However, if you'd like to make this salad the authentic way, here's how:
- Place uncooked rice (if using) in a dry wok/frying pan over medium-high heat. As rice heats up, shake the pan back and forth or stir with a spoon. After 6-8 minutes, the rice will turn a light golden brown and begin to pop (like popcorn).
- When it begins to pop, transfer to a coffee grinder or pestle & mortar. Grind down to a course powder. Tip: A coffee grinder works well for this. Simply wipe out with a clean, dry cloth, then pour in your rice and grind. For pestle & mortar, use a firm, circular grinding motion.