Chicken, tofu and noodles: Chi San’s Chinese-Vietnamese salads
Prep 10 min
Cook 35 min
For the dressing
20ml dark soy sauce – we use Lee Kum Kee Double Deluxe
40ml sesame oil
20g smooth peanut butter
30g sesame sauce, or tahini
1 pinch sea salt – we use Maldon
20ml good cider vinegar – we use Aspall’s
For the salad
2 chicken breasts, or supremes
4 baby cucumbers, cut into thin, 7mm-thick strips
1 roasted red pepper (from a jar), drained and cut into thin, 7mm-thick strips
20g roasted peanuts, roughly crushed
1 tsp roasted white sesame seeds
Put all the dressing ingredients in a blender, blitz smooth, then set aside.
Put the chicken in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover, bring to a boil, then simmer for five minutes. Turn off the heat, put a lid on the pan and leave to sit for 30 minutes.
Lift out the chicken and shred into thin strips. Put the chicken in a bowl with the cucumber and pepper, add the dressing and toss to coat. Transfer to a platter, sprinkle the peanuts and sesame seeds on top, and serve, adding more dressing as required.
Tomato and tofu salad
Prep 20 min
Cook 30 min
50ml sweetened rice vinegar – we use Patchun
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely sliced
10ml vegetable oil
340g silken soft tofu, cut into 2½cm cubes
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
80g sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and torn in half
½ tsp finely chopped chives
Put the sweetened rice vinegar in a pan, bring to a boil, cook until reduced by a third, then take off the heat.
Put the sliced garlic and vegetable oil in a small pan set over a low heat and cook very gently until the garlic is just brown. Remove from the heat, leave to cool, then strain the oil into a small bowl and discard the garlic slices.
Arrange the tofu in a neat row on a serving plate. In a medium bowl, mix the cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes, then scatter them over the tofu. Drizzle the reduced vinegar and garlic oil on top, or to taste, and serve scattered with the chives.
Vietnamese vermicelli salad
Prep 25 min
Cook 5 min
For the dressing
2 fresh jalapeño chillies (or jarred, if need be), roughly chopped (remove and discard the pith and seeds, if you prefer less heat)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbsp fish sauce – we use the Thai Squid brand, which is widely available
2 tbsp sugar
30ml fresh lime juice
5-6 tbsp (20g) coriander leaves, plus 2½ tbsp (10g) extra, to serve
For the salad
100g vermicelli – we use the Lungkow brand; look in the world food aisle of big supermarkets or in Chinese food stores
½ medium carrot
2 spring onions, trimmed
1 fresh red chilli (30g net weight)
1 banana shallot, peeled
20ml extra-virgin olive oil
10g roasted peanuts, crushed
Put all the dressing ingredients in a blender, blitz smooth, pour into a clean jar, seal and store in the fridge. You’ll need at least 60ml for this salad, but any excess will keep in the fridge for at least a month – use it as a condiment, much as you would chilli sauce.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, drop in the noodles and cook for two minutes. Drain and rinse immediately under cold running water, so they cool down fast.
Cut all the vegetables into thin 2mm strips. Put the noodles and vegetables in a bowl, add three-quarters of a teaspoon of the dressing and toss well to coat. Transfer the salad to a serving plate, pour over another 50ml dressing (or more, if you like things spicy), then drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve sprinkled with the nuts and reserved coriander leaves.