I can’t decide what do I miss the most about Southeast Asia. Is it the climate: warm and pleasant, ideal for daily trips to the beach? Or is it the people: kind, happy and making you feel welcome? Or is it the food: made with the freshest ingredients, simple but oh, so good?
The food of Southeast Asia is simply delicious. Light, fresh, using a big variety of ingredients, vegetable based, and so, so interesting! Even though Southeast Asian food varies from country to country, the main principles and ingredients are similar. The cuisines of Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia use coconut milk, ginger (or galangal), mangoes, peanuts and rice, among many other ingredients native to the region. Living near London makes it fairly easy for me to recreate Southeast Asian dishes at home, given the fact that most of the ingredients are available in Asian supermarkets in London. But still, how different the food tastes eaten at home compared to it being eaten at the seafront restaurant, on one of the remote and beautiful beaches of Thailand?
Still, for someone who has never been to that part of the world, trying to cook Asian dishes at home is a great way of getting to know the culture. Plus, if you did travel to Southeast Asia and you are craving the food you tried there, I don’t see why wouldn’t you try making it at home. ^^
No better way to learn about the cultures and people than by learning what they eat and how they prepare their food. Ready for the journey?
The salad presented here was the first ever mango salad I’ve tried. It was in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on a hot and humid day. Salad did its job brilliantly: juicy and crunchy, dealt with the hunger without making me feel unnecessarily heavy.
Worth pointing out: to make this salad we don’t use a regular, sweet mango easily found in supermarkets. It’s a different species of mango, slightly sour and crunchy, ideal for salads. You can still find it in the UK, usually called sour mango.
CHICKEN AND MANGO SALAD
for the sweet and sour dressing
1/4 cup fish sauce
2tbsp lime juice
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1tbs chopped shallots
1 long chilli, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup palm sugar
for the salad
2 chicken breasts
3tbsp oyster sauce
150g green mango, shredded
50g carrot, shredded
2tbsp of unsalted peanuts
1 shallot, sliced (optional).
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
handfull of mixed herbs
HOW TO MAKE?
1. Start with the chicken. Wash the meat and pat dry. Place the chicken breast in a bowl and add oyster sauce. Make sure that the meat is covered in sauce, set aside and let it marinate for 15-20 minutes.
2. Time to make salad dressing. Prepare your mortar and pestle. Add garlic and crush it with the pestle. Chop shallots and chillies, add to the garlic and crush in the mortar. Remove everything from mortar and place in a bowl, add all the remaining ingredients. Mix well. You can season it to your liking.
3. Take out the chicken from the marinade and fry on a non-stick pan. Use a drop of oil, if needed. Fry on a medium heat, until cooked through. Take off the pan, set aside. Slice the chicken.
4. Prepare a salad bowl. Shred the mango and carrots, add it to a bowl. Add desiccated coconut. Add the herbs, peanuts and shallot.Add the sliced chicken. Toss with the dressing.
5. Serve immediately, garnish with a sliced chilli.