Make friends with salad

Jess Murphy: You can’t get much better than stuffing a tasty filling inside a leaf, rice paper roll or bao bun

Chicken Larb with grilled cabbage and lime

Chicken Larb with grilled cabbage and lime

 

Of all the Simpsons songs, You Don’t Make Friends With Salad, and Spider Pig, have got to be the best, but I confess to having a long-standing friendship with salads. My favourite salads come from my back-packing days – you know, that time we shared soap, played bongo drums and had cornrows in our hair. We wore one-size-fits-all Thai fisherman pants, and went to all-night full moon parties. 

You can’t get much better fast food than stuffing a tasty filling inside a leaf, rice paper roll or bao bun, and this is where chicken larb comes in so handy. It’s a typical larb of minced up meaty deliciousness stuffed in a cabbage leaf with fresh mint and spices – perfect for a low-carb main course salad. In Kai, we often substitute tofu or mushrooms in place of the chicken.

Then moving swiftly along to Sri Lanka and this amazing coconut and chilli topping, which can go on everything from curries to hoppers – those bowl-shaped pancakes made from fermented rice flour and coconut milk. That is food of the gods and an all-round taste sensation. 

When making salads with fatty, delicious things such as chorizo sausage or duck legs, I like to use a really good Spanish sherry vinegar. A cheffy tip is to look out for the ones made in and around Cádiz in Spain, between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María, an area known as the sherry triangle. Here, the vinegar is just as important as the oil. 

This bean salad with chorizo and red peppers is perfect for summertime. You could use tinned beans for this, no judgement here, folks are busy these days. You can whip this up in the same amount of time it takes to chill a bottle of your favourite tipple.

CHICKEN LARB WITH GRILLED CABBAGE AND LIME

Chicken Larb with grilled cabbage and lime
Chicken Larb with grilled cabbage and lime

Ingredients
Serves four
3 chicken fillets (mince them in a mincer or food processor, or use turkey mince)
2-3tbsp fish sauce
Pinch of sugar
Thinly sliced red onion, cut in rounds
Small bunch of coriander, chopped
2 limes, one zested and juiced, one sliced into wedges, for serving
1 red chilli, finely chopped
Small bunch spring onions, thinly sliced
Salt and white pepper
1 cabbage, cut into eight wedges

Method
1
 Place the chicken in a small saucepan, cover with water and poach it until cooked through.

Drain the chicken, and mix the fish sauce and sugar into it.

3 Add the red onions, spring onions, coriander, lime juice and zest, chilli, salt and pepper.

4 Heat a griddle pan. Dress the cabbage in olive oil, salt and pepper and grill for two to three minutes on each side. Place it on a tray and put it into an oven heated to 180 degree Celsius, or equivalent, until the stems are tender. Put the extra lime on the griddle pan for a few minutes each side too.

5 Serve the larb in a bowl with the cabbage on a separate plate and garnished with a little more chopped coriander and the griddled limes.

PRAWNS WITH NOODLES, CARROT, COCONUT AND CHILLI

Prawns with noodles, carrot, coconut and chilli
Prawns with noodles, carrot, coconut and chilli

Ingredients
Serves 4
10-12 prawns, shelled
4 nests rice noodles
Small handful toasted coconut flakes
2 small carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
Juice of 1 lime 
1 red chilli, sliced
Small bunch spring onions, thinly sliced
6 fresh radishes, thinly sliced
Small bunch of coriander, chopped 
Salt

Method
1 Season the prawns and pan fry until pink.

2 Soak the noodles according to packet instructions and drain them.

3 Mix the noodles with the prawns, carrots, lime juice, spring onions and radishes, and top with the coconut, chilli and more coriander.

4 Put it all in a pretty bowl and bring to the table.

BORLOTTI BEANS, ROASTED PEPPER, CHORIZO WITH CHERRY TOMATOES

Borlotti beans, roasted pepper, chorizo with cherry tomatoes
Borlotti beans, roasted pepper, chorizo with cherry tomatoes

Ingredients
Serves 4 

200g dried borlotti beans, soaked overnight
4 red peppers
Handful of cherry tomatoes
2 sticks of chorizo (I like the Gubbeen one)
Red onion, finely sliced
Parsley, chopped
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Method

1 Drain the water from the beans, replace with fresh water and bring to the boil with some aromatics like bay leaves if you have them. When they are cooked, drain them.

2 Dress the whole red peppers in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in an oven heated to 200 degrees Celsius, or equivalent, until they are soft and the skin has blackened. Leave to cool slightly then peel the skin off and thinly slice them.

3 Halve the cherry tomatoes.

4 Slice the chorizo into coins and pan fry. When they are nicely crisped up, drain off the oil.

5 Mix everything together and season well. I like to put in a good bit of parsley for colour.

6 Serve in a bowl with more herbs on top.

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