Yin and Yang Salad…When it’s dark and cold outside, we all need an injection of colour, zest and excitement. In our lives and our food.
My family look a bit suspiciously at anything too exotic but I can get away with it if I add a small flourish of zingy flavours into tried and tested favourites.
If you’re following my new book, the Metabolic Fat-loss Diet, you’ll know it’s divided into four-day phases, to add a burst of change to your daily routine.
Mixing things up really works – and the same is true for flavours too. That’s why I’m being inspired by the upcoming Chinese New Year and chucking a few oriental flavours into my cold-weather dinners.
Salad in winter might seem like madness but this Yin Yang chicken salad packs enough of a punch to satisfy hungry bellies – and to wake up tired old taste buds.
Chinese flavours such as soy sauce, five spice, garlic, ginger, pepper and rice vinegar are brilliant store-cupboard flavour bombs. If your taste buds are feeling jaded, drag them to the front of the cupboard and start experimenting!
Yin and yang chicken salad
Serves 2 • Ready in 30 minutes
220g (7½oz) skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into strips (233 cals)
½ onion, peeled and roughly chopped (27 cals)
1 bay leaf
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised with the back of a knife
For the salad:
100g (3½oz) cucumber (5cm/2in piece), peeled (10 cals)
a pinch of salt
1 celery stick, cut into long, thin strips (5 cals)
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into long, thin strips (35 cals)
80g (3¼oz) white cabbage, thinly shredded (22 cals)
1 small handful of fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, roughly chopped (3 cals)
1 small handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped (6 cals)
2 tsp sesame seeds (60 cals)
6 little gem lettuce leaves (3 cals)
For the dressing:
½ garlic clove, peeled and crushed (2 cals)
½ small red chilli, deseeded and cut into rings (1 cal)
½ tsp granulated sugar (10 cals)
juice of 1 lime (4 cals)
1 tsp fish sauce (1 cal)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Place the chicken in a lidded saucepan and add the onion, bay leaf and lemongrass. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Put the lid on the pan, reduce the heat and simmer for 10–12 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Remove the chicken from the pan with a slotted spoon and leave to cool.
- For the salad, using a vegetable peeler, cut the cucumber into flat strips. Discard the seeds, then place on a large plate and sprinkle with the salt. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the dressing by placing all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, adding 1 tablespoon water and mixing together.
- Squeeze the excess water out of the cucumber, then place in a large bowl and add the celery, carrot, cabbage and herbs. Mix in the cooked chicken and half the sesame seeds, then stir in the dressing.
- Arrange the lettuce leaves on 2 serving plates, then pile the salad on top of the lettuce and sprinkle with the remaining sesame seeds. Serve.