Ke nako! Can you feel it? Spring is (almost) here! Okay, it's quite a stretch, I mean we've barely started August, but the worst of winter is definitely over. The sun rises earlier (honestly whoever decided that waking up while it is still dark is an acceptable practice?), the days stretch longer and the ambient temperature is much milder. Here and there eager spring blossoms are bursting forth and the air seems heavy with promise.
Also, I'm getting fed up with the endless wintry soups (of which I've made a *lot*) and stews. As much as I love wrapping up with a bowl of warmth, after a few months it gets a bit old. Thank goodness for different seasons, eh? Truth be told, these interim bits between the seasons are pretty special. I mean, you get the best of both worlds. In one week you could have a picnic and an evening in front of the fireplace, fortifying your frozen innards with sherry.
You could opt for a sunny Sunday afternoon stroll after a friendly braai (bbq) and the very next day be huddled under your duvet, armed with steaming hot chocolate. Actually the second bit sounds a whole lot nicer at the moment, doesn't it?
The magic of spring for me also lies in the crunch of a raw cabbage leaf* under your teeth, the burst of colours adorning your plate and the fact that supper can be done and dusted in mere minutes. This chicken salad recipe takes the ordinary mayo-laden version and transforms it into something simpler and eminently more flavourful. The miso gives a lovely asian twist to this salad and adds a dash of savoury umami which happily ties everything together. The miso marinade incidentally is also fabulous on it's own - I'm thinking miso grilled chicken or prawns on the bbq come summer.
*Is it normal to really really like raw cabbage the way I do? Sans dressing or partner ingredients even?
Grilled Miso Chicken Salad
Adapted from Food & Wine
Serves 4 (generously)500g (1 lb) skinless, boneless chicken breasts3 tbsp vegetable oil2 tbsp lemon juice1/2 cabbage, shredded4 carrots, cut into matchsticks2 x 75g packets instant (ramen) noodles, cooked*a big handful fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
For the miso sauce:1 1/2 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger1 1/2 tbsp miso paste3 garlic cloves, minced1 tbsp Asian chili garlic sauce1/2 tbsp brown sugar1/2 tbsp sesame oil2 tsp lemon juice
1. Start by making the marinade for the chicken by mixing together all the ingredients for the miso sauce.
2. Slash each chicken breast about three times, keeping the cuts fairly shallow. Rub about 1/3 of the miso sauce over the chicken breasts, reserving the remainder to make the dressing.
3. Place chicken breast under the grill for 7 - 10 minutes, or until just cooked through and still juicy. Remove and allow to cool down before cutting into strips.
4. Meanwhile, make the dressing for the salad by mixing together the remainder of the miso sauce with the vegetable oil and lemon juice.
5. To assemble the salad toss the cabbage, carrot, noodles, coriander and chicken strips together and pour the miso dressing over. Toss again to mix and serve at once.
* Discard the flavouring packets. Alternatively use quick cooking asian noodles of your choice.
Nutritional info (per serving): Calories 353.3, Total fat 16.5 g, Saturated fat 1.8 g, Polyunsaturated fat 5.5 g, Monounsaturated fat 8.2 g, Cholesterol 72.5 mg, Sodium 131.8 mg, Potassium 658.5 mg, Total carbohydrate 20.1 g, Dietary fiber 3.3 g, Sugars 1.9 g, Protein 31.2 g
Good source of: Niacin 72.8 %, Vitamin C 72.5 %, Vitamin B6 42.8 %, Selenium 36.9 %, Vitamin A 34.1 %, Phosphorus 29.7 %