First, there was chicken

PAT CHURCHILL
Last updated 05:00 31/10/2012
Goi ga

GOI GA: With this Vietnamese chicken salad, even the leftovers are good.

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NEED TO KNOW

Main ingredient Chicken
Type of dish Asian
Course Side dish
Cooking time <30 min
Serves/makes 6
Special options Dairy & Gluten-free

It is widely accepted that an egg is the perfect ingredient for home cooks. Eggs are eggs all over the world - no need to ask "what's that?" in a crowded market. And there are thousands of egg recipes, ranging from basic boiled to complex concoctions.

But not one egg dish is as tastebud-tickling as a kitchen warm and fragrant with a roast chicken dinner . Eggs on toast might be simple but apart from the mad dish that has a duck stuffed into a turkey and a chicken stuffed into the duck and the subsequent big bird a nightmare to carve, chicken dishes are as uncomplicated as any on-toast offering. Chicken can dress up with the suave charm of a toyboy, or down with less fuss than the Colonel.

Seasonless, always in a store or freezer near you, or maybe currently bustling around your backyard, a chicken dinner tonight - be it a roast, a salad, in a bun or slowcooked in the oven, could be your best decision of today.

GOI GA - VIETNAMESE CHICKEN SALAD

We were out with friends at a Vietnamese restaurant recently and among the shared dishes we ordered was goi ga. It's known as Vietnamese coleslaw because of the key ingredients.

I made a big bowl of it next time we had guests and next day, even the leftovers were good.

3 chicken breasts, skinned
2 star anise
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 Tbsp fish sauce
green cabbage, finely shredded
2 carrots, grated
1 onion, thinly sliced
A handful of Vietnamese mint leaves or ordinary mint
cup roasted peanuts, chopped
cup fried shallots*

1 lime sliced into wedges

Coriander and Vietnamese mint leaves for garnish
cup fish sauce
Small knob of ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic crushed
cup rice vinegar
1 hot red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp sugar
juice of 1 lime

1. Simmer the chicken breasts in salted water with the peppercorns and star anise until they are cooked. Drain, keeping the chicken stock for freezing if desired. Refrigerate until cool enough to handle, then shred with your fingers, sprinkle with the fish sauce and keep refrigerated until required.

2. Place the prepared cabbage and carrots in a large bowl with the onion. Add the shredded chicken. Chop the mints and add to the salad.

3. Shake the dressing ingredients (Fish sauce, ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, chilli, sugar and lime juice) together until the sugar is dissolved. Check that the flavour is to your liking, adding more lime, sugar or fish sauce if required.

4. Pour over the salad. Mix everything together well and place in a large serving bowl.

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5. Sprinkle over the chopped peanuts and the fried shallots and garnish with the lime wedges and the coriander and Vietnamese mint leaves.

* Fried shallots are used a lot in south-east Asia. They are available by the packet or jar from Asian food stockists.

Serves six.

- The Press

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