Vietnamese ‘Chicken’ & Mint Salad

I first made this salad many years ago when I lived in the US. Nigella Lawson was doing a competition on her website where you had to make this salad, plate it and take a picture and the best looking picture won. I was a bit annoyed back then because I’d submitted my photo and plated in a certain way then the person who eventually won posted after me and plated very similarly. But resentment over, this is a great salad, the cabbage makes it nice and crunchy and it’s so easy these days to replace the pulled chicken. I used Linda McCartney’s hoisin ‘duck’. The mint balances the spices very nicely and the fish sauce adds a nice sourness. Anyone who is familiar with Nigella Lawson will appreciate her narrative on the recipe ‘When it comes to chicken, I am very much a thigh than a breast person’. She is my idol!

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 clove garilc
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 onion
  • pepper
  • 200g white cabbage
  • 1 carrot
  • 200g chicken substitute
  • 40g mint

Method

1.) Heat a frying pan and cook the chicken substitute until crispy then set aside to cool.

2.) Make the dressing by adding the chilli to a measuring jug, crush the garlic clove, finely chop and add that, add the sugar, vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, a pinch of pepper and oil. Stir and leave to sit.

3.) Shred the cabbage and add to a large salad bowl. Peel the carrot and grate and add with the cabbage. Pick off the mint leaves and chop up and mix in. Peel and finely chop the onion and add that. Add the cooled ‘chicken’. Finally, add the dressing and give everything a good mix. Serve.

Bagels

I’m not at all sure why but generally at Christmastime the supermarkets like to sell big packets of smoked salmon. As much as I love the stuff, I wasn’t aware of it being a traditional Christmas thing. So after Christmas, these packs of salmon go on sale and I decided to take advantage and have my favourite breakfast, bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese. I used the recipe in Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’ as she is an absolute genius and I love her. So much so in fact that I ended up purchasing the same dressing gown she wore in one of her shows – decorated with a map of Venice, partly because I loved it and partly because I want to be her. The recipe makes 15 bagels which I didn’t need so I actually quartered the recipe though I made half the amount of bagels which probably explains why they were a bit smaller than what I was expecting. Also, I think my yeast might need replacing as they didn’t rise as much as the last time I made them where the hole in the middle almost completely closed up. The method below is correct though and as you can see, I still got pretty decent bagels so it’s pretty foolproof.

Makes 8 bagels

Ingredients

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 7g yeast
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp oil and more for greasing
  • 250ml tepid water
  • 2 tbsp malt vinegar (or sugar)

Method

1.) Measure out the water into a measuring jug and sprinkle the yeast on the top. Leave to ferment for about 10 minutes.

2.) Into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer (or you can do this by hand) add the salt, sugar (1/2 tbsp) and oil to the bottom of the bowl.

3.) Weigh out the flour into the bowl.

4.) Attach the dough hook to the stand mixer, connect the bowl and pour the fermented yeast on top.

5.) Put onto a low setting for about 10 minutes. (It will take longer by hand as it is quite a dry dough).

6.) Take the dough out of the bowl, drizzle it lightly with oil. Put the dough back in and turn around to coat the dough with the oil.

7.) Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave the dough to rise for about 1 hour until doubled in size.

8.) Knead and divide the dough into 2 pieces.

9.) Roll each piece out into a rope and cut into 4 pieces.

10.) Roll each piece out even thinner, form a circle and squeeze the ends together.

11.) Boil a kettle and pour the water into a pan. Add the vinegar and turn the pan onto a simmer.

12.) Line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper. Grease with oil. (I did forget this step but I can’t imagine how this wouldn’t improve the bagels)

13.) Place 2 bagels at a time into the water, they should float, leave for 30 seconds then flip over to poach both sides.

14.) Put the poached bagels onto the baking paper, spread out. They’ll be a bit puffy from the poaching.

15.) Preheat the oven to 240 degrees C. Leave the bagels for 20 minutes, covered with a tea towel.

16.) Bake the bagels for 10 – 15 minutes, until golden brown. Leave to cool before serving.