This recipe is from my book It’s All American Food.
Among the most popular offerings at Thai restaurants in the U.S. are the wonderful, light, tingling, super-flavorful salads. They can be pretty elaborate affairs, with all kinds of intricate garnishes. But I love the simplicity of the following recipe, which takes mere minutes to make—and gets any meal, Thai or otherwise, off to a rousing start.
Makes 4 appetizer servings
Oil for deep-frying
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast or thigh
1/2 teaspoon Thai chile powder, or cayenne
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup lime juice
8 teaspoons Thai fish sauce
1 small, hot chile, seeded and minced (or more to taste)
4 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup smashed roasted peanuts
1/4 cup finely minced celery heart
1/2 firmly packed cup celery leaves
1/4 firmly packed cup cilantro leaves
1/4 firmly packed cup shredded mint leaves
4 green-leaf lettuce leaves
1. Place oil in a wide pot, several inches deep, and heat to 300°F.
2. Mince chicken coarsely. When oil has reached 300°F, lower the chicken, all at once, into the oil. Immediately swirl with your spoon to break up clumps. Cook until chicken just loses its pink; this may be as little as 10 seconds. Pour chicken immediately into a colander, discarding oil (or saving for another use). Let chicken drain for a moment.
3. Place chicken in a mixing bowl. Add the chile powder and mix well to color chicken evenly. Add the sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, chile, ginger and peanuts; toss vigorously to blend. Add celery heart, celery leaves, cilantro leaves and mint leaves, and toss gently (so as to keep the leaves fluffy).
4. Place the lettuce leaves on 4 serving plates, and top each leaf with 1/4 of the chicken mixture. Serve immediately.
Photo courtesy of Bigstock