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Thai chicken and cucumber salad

Australian Gourmet Traveller summer salad recipe for Thai chicken and cucumber salad

By Rodney Dunn
  • Serves 4
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Thai chicken and cucumber salad
Meat in salads
Why serve meat on the side when it can be incorporated into the salad? French cooks shred confit duck and mix it with curly endive and hazelnuts, and Italians serve salumi with many salads from potatoes to radicchio to broad beans. In Vietnam, shredded chicken is combined with fragrant herbs and dressed with fish sauce, lime and sugar. The addition of meat obviously makes a salad more robust, a meal in itself. Meat in salads is best served warm or at room temperature. If you're serving it from the refrigerator bring it to room temperature first.


  • 3 Lebanese cucumbers, thinly sliced diagonally
  • ½ tsp raw sugar
  • 2 tbsp dried prawns (see note)
  • 1 cup coriander leaves (loosely packed)
  • 1 cup mint leaves (loosely packed)
  • 6 red shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 280 gm chicken thigh fillets (about 2)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 150 gm arrowroot (1 cup)
  • For deep-frying: vegetable oil
Thai dressing
  • 50 gm piece palm sugar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 small red chilli, thinly sliced
Caramelised peanuts
  • 1/3 cup raw peanuts
  • ¼ cup finely grated palm sugar


  • 1
    For dressing, place palm sugar and garlic into a mortar and, using a pestle, pound until crushed, add fish sauce and lime juice and stir until combined, then stir through chilli.
  • 2
    For caramelised peanuts, combine nuts and palm sugar in a saucepan and stir over low-medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until caramelised. Pour onto a baking paper-lined tray and cool. Coarsely crush to separate nuts.
  • 3
    Heat oil in a deep-fryer to 180C. Cut chicken into 5mm pieces, stir in fish sauce, dust in arrowroot and deep-fry for 4-5 minutes or until golden and crisp. Drain on absorbent paper.
  • 4
    Place cucumber into a bowl, scatter with sugar, stir and set aside for 10 minutes or until slightly softened. Place prawns into a mortar and, using a pestle, pound until finely ground. Combine prawns with herbs, shallot and cucumber, divide among plates, scatter with chicken and peanuts, drizzle with dressing and serve immediately.


NoteDried prawns are available from Asian supermarkets.
Short-order ideas
For a roast beef, potato and horseradish salad, sear a piece of beef fillet in a frying pan until browned all over, then roast at 180C until rare. Season to taste, then rest until required. Boil kipfler potatoes until tender and cool. Finely grate horseradish root, then add to sour cream with finely chopped chives and coarsely chopped potatoes, season to taste and stir to combine. Slice beef thinly, arrange on plates, spoon potato mixture over beef and serve.
For a salami, olive and rocket salad, lay slices of salami over an oven tray and roast until crisp, then combine with marinated green olives, torn mozzarella and baby rocket. Whisk extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a crushed garlic clove and drizzle over salad.

  • Author: Rodney Dunn