photo (56)

Summer has hit Melbourne and I’m in the mood for salads and asian flavours. This dish combines those things. It packs a punch and feel free to adjust the chilli to your liking (i use the seeds as I’m a fiend but discarding them is always an option).

You can flavour the poaching liquid with whatever you like, this combination was very tasty.

The sauce needs to be adjusted to taste, adding a little more coconut sugar, fish sauce and lime juice to balance.

Please don’t be put off by the length of the recipe, I couldn’t think of another way to write it as I used different parts of the same ingredients in the 3 components (salad, black vinegar dressing, chicken). Which means it’s an almost waste free meal!


3 free range chicken breasts

1 x  250ml can of quality coconut milk

2 cups boiling water (1 cup chicken stock and 1 cup water would also work)

1 stalk lemongrass

1 x 1 inch squared piece of ginger

2 cloves garlic

1 bunch coriander

1 bunch mint

1 Grapefruit (marsh or ruby red)

1 cup green beans diced into .5cm pieces

1 cup snow peas julienned

3 spring onions

1 green chilli

1 red chilli

1 Tbs fish sauce

2 Tbs light soy sauce

1 Tbs shaved coconut sugar (i buy it in blocks from an asian grocers)

1 tsp sesame oil

3 Tbs chinese black vinegar

1 Tbs chinese cooking wine/rice wine

Tbs roasted hazelnuts

2 Tbs toasted coconut chips

1 cup rice of choice (optional)


Combine the coconut milk and water in a pot big enough to hold the chicken breasts. Turn on to medium heat.

Get out a small food processor bowl or mortar and pestle (this will be for the black vinegar dressing), place on bench next to your chopping board. Get out a large bowl appropriate for mixing salad in and place on the bench on the other side of your chopping board. Doing this now will make your life easier:)

Smash the thick end of the lemon grass (use the pestle) and discard the woody top and outer most layer. Remove the rest of the outer layers and put in the coconut broth. Slice the purple lemongrass heart and put in the base of the food processor.

Remove the skin from the ginger and place the skin in the coconut broth. Cut the ginger in half, place 1 half in the food processor bowl and then very finely julienne the other half. Place the julienned ginger in the large bowl.

Remove skin from both garlic cloves and smash with the base of a heavy knife, place 1 clove in the broth and 1 in the food processor bowl.

Remove the roots from the coriander. Reserve leaves. Clean and then bruise with the flat side of the blade of a knife (or pestle). Place half in broth and half in the food processor bowl.

Remove the white part of the spring onions, discard the root and place the rest in the coconut broth. Finally slice the green part and place 1/3 in the food processor and the rest in the large bowl.

Remove the stalks (reserve) from the chilies and slice the green one in half length ways. Remove the seeds from one half. Add this and the stalks to the coconut broth. Slice the chilies finely, put 1 half of the green chilli in the food processor bowl and the rest of the chilli in a large bowl.

Once the broth has come to a simmer place the chicken breasts in and cover with a lid. Cook for 15 minutes at a very gentle simmer or until chicken is just cooked through. Turn off heat and leave uncovered in the broth for 5 minutes.

Back to what’s in the food processor bowl: Process the ingredients in the food processor with the lime juice and half the zest of the grapefruit, until they reach the consistency of a rough paste. Remove the processed ingredients and place in a very small pot – this will be your dressing.

Add 1 tsp each of the black vinegar , fish sauce and soy sauce to the coconut broth and then add the rest to the dressing.

Add 1/2 tsp coconut sugar to the coconut broth and then the rest to the dressing.

Add 1/4 tsp sesame oil to the coconut broth and the rest to the dressing.

Add the rice wine to the dressing then bring to the boil over a medium heat, reduce to a slow simmer and cook for 5 – ten minutes until slightly reduced. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Remove your chicken from the pot and allow to cool on a chopping board. Strain the broth, reserving the liquid if cooking rice. If you are cooking rice cook to instructions using the reserved coconut broth as your liquid.

Continue to prepare salad. Remove herbs from stalks and add to large bowl along with beans and snow peas. Segment grapefruit and chop into 1 cm pieces, add to the large bowl. Toss well to combine.

Slice chicken once cooled.

Time to serve: Place coconut rice (if using) in a bowl and top with a mixture of the salad and chicken. Drizzle over the dressing (it is quite potent!) and top with chopped hazelnuts, remaining grapefruit zest and coconut chips.

Time: 30 minutes approx

Serves: 4 – 5

You may also like

%d bloggers like this: