Yin & Yang Salad with Spiced Chicken – A European take on a Vietnamese principle

Not long until I am of to Gascony for a weeks worth of cookery lessons, really looking forward to learning some new skills and flavour combinations. My recent venture to the Far East has provided  a much needed boost to the taste buds and got me thinking, how could I bring the concept closer to home. This is something that has been developing in my head for a few weeks, lets take a look.

WP_20140518_13_44_17_ProIf you are casting your eye over the ingredients and thinking ‘oh my god, you must be joking’ believe me, this works. There are some things missing from the picture above, the recipe evolved during the cooking/tasting process. There are several stages to go through, poaching the Pears, making some Caramel, marinating the Chicken etc.  so here goes.


Spiced Poached Pears

  • 2 – 4 Firm Pears such as Comice or Conference
  • 1 1/2 Litres Water
  • 1 1/2 Inch piece of Galangal, Sliced
  • 2 Strips Lemon Peel
  • 4 cm piece Cinnamon
  • 4 Star Anise
  • 1 Tbsp Pomegranate Molasses

Place all the Ingredients (except the Pears) into a Saucepan and slowly heat until the sugar has melted, whilst this is happening, peel the Pears and place in the liquid. Doing so at the last minute retains their colour. Make a Cartouche out of greaseproof paper and cut a hole in the centre, this will help keep the Pears in the liquor, but enable some evaporation to take place.

WP_20140518_14_16_41_ProThe picture above shows the technique, let the pears simmer for about 15 minutes and remove from the heat. Let cool and then transfer to a bowl/container and stick in the fridge to chill. (If you want too, make more of these as they make an awesome dessert on their own, served with something crunchy and Cream or Creme Fraiche).

Caramelised Hazelnuts

  • 20 or so Blanched Hazelnuts
  • 200 grms Sugar
  • Cocktail Sticks
  • 1/4 tsp Aleppo Chilli flakes

This element provides some texture and sweetness to the dish. Place the Sugar in a saucepan or non-stick frying pan and place on a high heat, keep an eye on things as you will have to start moving things around gently, but don’t use a spoon. I used the technique HERE, once you have viewed the video a couple of times you should feel confident to have a go, just remember melted Sugar is EXTREMELY HOT!

WP_20140518_15_41_58_ProThis one is almost ready to go, add the Aleppo Chilli at the last minute to prevent it from burning. Next GENTLY insert a cocktail stick into a Hazelnut and with the saucepan at an angle, dip the Nut into the Caramel completely, and then remove twisting the cocktail stick as you go.

WP_20140518_15_54_49_ProNow for the Chicken

  • 1 Chicken Breast/person (The best you can afford)
  • 1 Cup Plain Greek Yoghurt
  • 1 Clove Garlic, crushed
  • 3 sprigs fresh Thyme, stems removed
  • 1/2 tsp Maldon Sea Salt
  • Zest of 1/2 Lemon
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo Chilli
  • 1/2 tsp ground Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Sumac
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper (My variety from Steenbergs is particularly HOT, you may need more)
  • 3 twists Black Pepper

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and add the Chicken, making sure its well coated on all sides, cover and stick in the fridge for 2 -3 hours or overnight if possible.

WP_20140518_17_30_32_ProNow for the dressing!

  • 1 Lemon (juiced) + zest
  • 3 tbsp Rapeseed oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

WP_20140518_18_42_42_ProThis dressing needs tasting to get the flavour correct, it should be lemony and sharp, use the Rice Wine Vinegar to adjust the flavour balance. Using Rapeseed Oil gives it a really bright vibrant colour.

THE Yin & Yang Salad

  • 1 Pack Gorgonzola
  • 2 Red Raddichio
  • 2 Pears prepared as above
  • 20 Caramelise Hazelnuts prepared as above
  • 1 serving Lemon dressing prepared as above
  • 2 marinated Chicken Breasts prepared as above
  • 1 – 2 sliced Onions (Used to make  trivet to sit the Chicken on)

Put your over onto its highest heat and let it get to temperature.

WP_20140518_19_36_37_ProGet a baking tray, drizzle some Oil on the base and placed the sliced Onion on top, season with Salt, Pepper and sprinkle some Thyme leaves on top. Place the marinated Chicken on top and stick in the oven. Depending on the size of your Chicken breasts they will take 15 – 20 minutes to cook, plus another 7 minutes resting time.

WP_20140518_20_46_18_ProOur NEFF oven has a barbecue mode, where it alternates between FAN and Grilling Element, if you have this feature then use it for the last 5 minutes of cooking to develop the brown ‘crust’ on the top surface.

All you have to do now is construct the Salad. Separate the Chicory leaves, I cut the base of the stalk bit by bit to ensure there were no chunky ‘ends’, you will see when you have a go yourself. Dress the leaves with the Lemon dressing and place on a plate. Remove the Poached Pears from the fridge and chop into 1 inch pieces spreading amongst the leaves, do the same with the Gorgonzola, then the Hazelnuts, you are trying to balance the quantities to get the Yin & Yang going, Sour (Lemon Dressing), Bitter (Chicory), Sweet (Pears/Hazlenuts), Spicy (Chicken), Salty (Gorgonzola).

WP_20140518_20_57_23_ProSo there you have it, a healthy tasty Yin & Yang dish, bursting with textures and flavours it was delicious. If you are not keen on Gorgonzola, replace it it a Blue Cheese of your choice, for me the quality of the Chicken is EXTREMELY important. Mine comes from Casey Fields farm shop and is pure and natural with nothing injected. You HAVE to try some to realise how poor supermarket Chicken is. My partner was amazed at the texture and moisture in the Chicken, partly due to the sealing effect of the marinade.

Have a go at this, its wowzer.

Till next time,







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