It just so happens to be that everytime I go to Jo's place I'll end up baking one thing and then bringing along a salad. One might think that the baked goodies would disappear much quicker but it's actually the salad that disappears even faster. My mum doesn't think it's strange though, in her words, 'If people are asked to bring something along, they'll more than likely to bring something heavy or something they've spent a lot of time on cooking. Your salad will be great because there's only so much heavy food that people can eat'. And it's true, each time I've made salad, it disappears straight away and when I pay closer attention, I'm actually the only one bringing salad to the party.
If you're looking for a recipe to make and bring to a party (and subsequently return home with an empty bowl), I highly recommend this one: Jill Dupleix's 'Bang bang chicken'. Quoting Ms Dupleix, apparently 'Sichuan street vendors sold this as a snack, first hammering the chicken with a bang or wooden cudget to loosen the fibres'. Unfortunately, there's no banging involved in this particular recipe but by all means, you can definitely give it a go and have a bit of fun!
Ingredients: 2 chicken breasts, 2 slices peeled fresh ginger, 4 trimmed spring onions, 1/2 peeled cucumber, 1 peeled carrot, 2 celery stalks, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds. For the sauce - 1 tbsp sesame oil, 2 tbsp peanut butter, 1 tbsp sweet chilli sauace, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tsp caster sugar, 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1 finely sliced small red chilli.
Cook the chicken in a pan with 1 tsp salt, the ginger and enough cold water to cover. Finely shred the spring onions and add half to the pan. Bring to a simmer and poach for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave for 30 minutes, then drain. Cut the cucumber, carrot and celery into matchsticks (suggest you use a sharp knife and be careful of those fingers!)
Finely shred the chicken and combine with the cucumber, carrot, celery and remaining spring onions. Add the sesame oil, vinegar, sea salt and pepper and toss to mix.
To make the sauce, mix all the sauce ingredients until you have a paste. Gradually whisk in up to 100ml water until runny but still quite think. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and vegetables, scatter with toasted sesame seeds and serve.I had help from J cutting up the vegies into matchsticks. He doesn't think I can use a knife properly (and neither can I) so I let him take care of it. It's actually quite a laborious process cutting up vegetables into fine matchsticks. Before we knew it, a good half hour has passed and what was meant to be matchsticks looked more like crayons. Ah well, chunkier vegetables have crunch so if you're after something with a bit more texture, cut them a bit thicker. You'll find also that once you put on the dressing, it'll soften up the vegetables so if you are making this salad in advance, don't worry too much about having to cut the vegies too finely.
Loved this recipe and will definitely make it again!