Like asparagus, peas are another vegetable that is quintessentially spring and they find a nature partner in fresh mint. To use up the peas I bought for the Salmon with Asparagus, Lima Beans and Peas, I thought it would be interesting to do something with Asian flavors.
I found this recipe for Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Mint by Nigella Lawson, star of Nigella Kitchen on the Food Network and thought that peas would also work well in the dish.
Don’t be put off by the fish sauce. A lot of Southeast Asian dishes have it. Despite how pungent it is on its own, it disappears into the dish once it’s all mixed together. Consider this: if you’ve eaten Pad Thai, you’ve probably had fish sauce.
The other big change I made was to omit the Thai chile and instead spiced my bowl with a few squirts of sriracha, a Thai hot sauce, allowing Chris to keep his salad mild.
Vietnamese Chicken, Pea and Mint Salad
Adapted from Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Mint by Nigella Lawson
½ medium sweet onion, finely sliced
1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced
2 tsp. sugar
1 ½ tsp. rice vinegar
1 ½ tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 ½ tbsp. Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce
2 ½ tbsp. canola oil
¾ lb. chicken breast cutlets
Seasoned salt and fresh-ground black pepper
1 cup fresh peas
8 oz. white or green cabbage, shredded
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 bunch mint, plus extra for garnish, leaves roughly chopped
Sriracha hot sauce
1. Add onion to a medium bowl. Whisk together garlic, sugar, vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce and remaining 1 ½ tbsp. oil and pour over onion. Set aside for ½ an hour.
2. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Pat chicken dry, season with salt and pepper and sauté until browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Set aside to cool and then cut into narrow strips.
3. Fill a 4 qt. saucepan halfway with water and place over medium-high heat. Bring to boil, add peas and cook for 3 minutes. Transfer cooked peas to an ice water bath to chill.
4. In a large bowl combine cabbage, carrot, chicken breast, peas and mint. Pour onion-dressing mixture over salad and toss with tongs to combine. Serve topped with extra mint for garnish and, if desired, a few squirts of sriracha.