Heavenly Hanoi chicken salad
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île de païn anytime

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île de païn anytime


Heavenly Hanoi chicken salad

Recipe By Liezie Mulder
Photographs By Craig Fraser


¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
3 sprigs thyme
½ teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper
6 free-range chicken breasts (around 130g each)
Caramel sauce:
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1½ cups chicken stock
¼ teaspoon chopped chilli
½ tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1½ tablespoons finely chopped lemon grass
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons grated ginger
½ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon fish sauce
pinch of chilli flakes
2 cups sliced red cabbage
2 cups sliced white cabbage
1 handful rocket
2 clementines (or naartjies), segmented
1 mango, cut into strips
1 can litchis, halved
¼ cup mint leaves
¼ cup coriander leaves
½ cup cashews, toasted
salt and pepper

This recipe has a couple of components drawing on flavours from all over but staying within the Asian taste palette. The cabbage salad was inspired by a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe. The caramel sauce for the chicken is a taste memory from a fish dish we ate in Vietnam, hence the name.

Cooking Instructions

  1. Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
  2. Cut the chicken breasts on the diagonal into 3cm pieces.
  3. Toss the chicken with the marinade (in a plastic container with a lid) and marinate for at least 2 hours in the fridge.
  4. Preheat a saucepan with a wide bottom over low to medium heat. Add the sugar in an even layer and allow to melt without stirring. Keep the heat on low so that the sugar melts evenly.
  5. As soon as most of it is melted, give it a good stir and cook gently until it turns a deep amber shade. (The colour changes quite quickly once it gets to this stage, so engage all your senses.)
  6. Combine the rest of the sauce ingredients in a measuring jug.
  7. As soon as the desired colour of the sugar is reached, very carefully add the stock mixture to the caramel. Be careful as the boiling hot sugar will bubble up when you add liquid to it.
  8. Cook for another 8–10 minutes until it has a syrupy consistency.
  9. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  10. Whisk all the ingredients for the vinaigrette together.
  11. Place the cabbage and the rest of the salad ingredients into a bowl, add enough vinaigrette to moisten all of it, and toss together. Let it sit for a few minutes, then season to taste.
  12. Thread 4–5 marinated chicken pieces onto a metal or bamboo skewer. Repeat to make six kebabs.
  13. Fire up your braai (or turn your oven on grill) and grill the kebabs. Brush them with caramel sauce halfway through, and another couple of times just before serving. The cooking should take about 4 minutes on each side.
  14. Serve with the salad (on a big platter or as individual portions) and a chunk of crusty bread to mop up the juices.

The caramel sauce can be made in a bigger quantity and stored in a jar – it’s simply delightful on pork, fish and chicken.

About the Author

Liezie Mulder is the co-owner and head chef of Knysna’s popular café and artisan bakery, île de païn. Liezie trained as a chef in the US, working under inspirational chefs in esteemed kitchens. It was here she met her life and business partner, master baker Markus Färbinger. Together, Liezie and Markus started île de païn on a wing and a prayer when they returned to Knysna in 2002. Local whispers soon spread about a small café on Thesen Islands offering the authentic coffee, croissants and sandwiches. île de païn has grown up and expanded, but stayed close to its roots. Liezie wrote her first recipe book “Café Food” in 2009 in a desire to share her passion for food and illustrate that marvelous dishes can be made at home by anyone.

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