Apologies to those in northern climes, where fall is surely on its way. I should have posted this in early summer. But here in Southeast Asia, we’re just getting the first whiff of dry air, of the season closest to “summer” as we know it in the United States. This light and refreshing chicken salad seemed the perfect thing to order the other day, in Siem Reap. Shredded chicken and cabbage with fresh herbs and bean sprouts, drizzled with lime, garnished with edible petals — it reminded me of the first such salads I had in Vietnam many years ago.
Although the above dish did not contain pomelo, many of the most summery of summer salads around here combine the wonderful flavors of this citrus — red or white — with chicken. Here is a modified recipe I used while teaching Southeast Asian cooking classes in Oregon, in a previous life:
1 pound chicken
1 head of garlic
1 white onion, thinly sliced
1/4 pomelo or 1/2 white grapefruit, sectioned
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh oregano
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
fresh chili sauce to taste
a good shake of the fish sauce bottle
freshly squeezed lime juice to taste
sea salt and pepper to taste
drizzle of sesame oil
Peel the garlic and set aside two cloves. Boil the chicken with remaining whole cloves of garlic. Do not overcook chicken; let cool and cut into thin strips.
Mince the remaining two cloves of garlic and combine with cooled chicken in a bowl. Save a pinch of each herb for garnishing, and chop the rest into small pieces; add to the bowl. Toss in the onion, pomelo, carrot, cabbage and rice vinegar. Stir thoroughly; add chili sauce, fish sauce, lime, salt and pepper according to your preference. Drizzle with sesame oil and let the mixture sit at least half an hour. Before serving, add more lime, fish sauce, sesame oil and/or chili if necessary to bring out the flavors.