Currently cooking out of Simple Weeknight Favorites from America’s Test Kitchen
Salad season has arrived.
(I’m going to ignore the fact that I had to turn on the heat in my house this morning. Also, today was the first day in a week that I actually saw the sun.)
As Bryan will tell you, I don’t believe in delicate salads. If I’m going to eat salad for a meal, I want a salad with substance and lots of stuff in it. I want to see a garden of colors and bite down on many different textures. And if the salad is tossed with homemade ranch dressing (preferably buttermilk ranch), so much the better. And I don’t like fruit in my salad. Nuts yes. Fruit no.
So this slaw had a couple of strikes against it right off the bat, but I was intrigued enough by the coconut-lime dressing to give it a try. Also, I had tried something fairly similar at a well-known chinese bistro-type restaurant not too long ago.
You start off by poaching a couple of chicken breasts in water, fish sauce and Asian chili-garlic sauce. Once the chicken is cooked, you shred it and toss it in a dressing made of more fish sauce, more chili-garlic sauce, lime juice and cream of coconut. The dressing is also used on a slaw of cabbage, diced mango and cilantro. Everything gets tossed together and topped with chopped, roasted cashews.
I really, really liked this slaw. The chicken gives the salad enough oomph to make it suitable for a meal. The dressing is a little sweet, a little tangy, a little funky (from the fish sauce) and quite spicy. Then you have the coolness and sweetness of the mango and the buttery crunch of the cashews. I have to admit to doctoring the salad up a bit after I took this pictures. To add a little more color and crunch, I mixed in a chopped orange bell pepper and a handful of cherry tomatoes.
I also fudged a bit on the dressing. The recipe calls for 5 tablespoons of cream of coconut. I tasted the dressing after 4 tablespoons, and it was quite sweet and coconutty. So I added another tablespoon of lime juice and left out the last tablespoon of cream of coconut. Just one teaspoon of chili-garlic sauce was enough to keep my mouth tingling, so if you don’t like spicy, you might want to cut it down to a half of a teaspoon of chili-garlic sauce. This slaw is best eaten the same day it is made; the lime juice really softens up the cabbage and you lose that crunchy texture.