The end of summer is a bittersweet experience for me. In my hometown, Canberra, the weather can be extremely hot and dry, with temperatures soaring into the high 30s (Celsius) and more. Add a scorching wind to the mix and you can find yourself looking forward to winter. But when winter comes, along with aches and pains brought on by the bitter cold, I am yearning for summer again.
Enough of that complaining, I hear you say. Fair enough. Let's now focus on my recipe for Gỏi Gà vietnamese salad with green papaya and chicken, dear friends.
These types of salads are favourites at The Blue House and I often make the Thai variation as well as another Vietnamese version with wombok. This one is light, crunchy and ever so tasty. You can leave out the chicken if you wish, or substitute it with some sliced or shredded roasted pork. Make sure you toast the peanuts. Enjoy.
GỎI GÀ VIETNAMESE SALAD WITH GREEN PAPAYA & CHICKEN
2 chicken breast fillets, skin off
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
For the salad 'greens':
1/2 a good sized firm green papaya
1 large carrot, peeled
2-3 baby cucumbers
6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
6 Vietnamese mint leaves, finely shredded
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2-3 tablespoons raw sugar
2/3 cup cold water
juice of 2 or 3 limes
1 small chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup fried shallots
1/3 cup peanuts, lightly roasted, ground/chopped (optional if there is risk of allergy)
First, poach the chicken. Pour a litre of cold water into a medium sized saucepan, add the sea salt and pepper, then place the chicken breasts into the water. Bring to the boil over a gentle heat. Cover, lower the heat and poach with water barely simmering for around 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through but not dry. Check the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast with a meat thermometer. It should read 165°F. Remove the chicken breasts from the pan, slice thinly with a sharp knife. Place onto a plate and pop into the refrigerator to chill (you are making a salad, hence you chill the meat, but it can also be served warm).
To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a small jug and mix well. Check the flavour and add more lime juice or chilli as required. Pop the dressing into the refrigerator to chill.
Meanwhile, prepare the greens. Peel half the papaya and cut off the stem. Scoop out the seeds and the thin white layer of flesh in the cavity where the seeds were. Cut the papaya into large segments. Use a shredder or grater to slice the papaya into long shreds. Do the same with the carrot and the (unpeeled) baby cucumbers. Mix the prepared papaya, carrot and baby cucumber together in a large bowl and add the shredded Vietnamese mint. Toss the halved cherry tomatoes through the salad.
Arrange the salad 'greens' on a serving platter or a serving bowl and add the sliced chicken with your hands. Just before you are ready to serve the dish, sprinkle the dressing evenly over the salad, then finish with the fried shallots and toasted peanuts.
Serves 2 as a main meal. Preparation time: 30-40 minutes.
Tell me dear readers, are you looking forward to warmer or cooler weather? Have you ever tried a green papaya salad? Perhaps you have eaten this dish in Vietnam on your travels? Do please share your stories with me.
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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- Liz Posmyk
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.