Just because it's the new year, I hate the notion that people feel the need to 'detox'. Many people avoid alcohol for the month of January, which in some cases may be wise, but to restrict your diet? Well that is pure punishment in my opinion. A really great solution to lightening the load (and calories) for the new year is to switch to adopting the principles of asian cookery.
Whilst Chinese food is one of our favourites, it isn't the healthiest of foods stemming from the far east but southeast asian cookery and some Japanese cookery can be incredibly delicious, healthy and satisfying. Vietnamese food is particularly healthy as is Thai food providing you steer clear of the obvious offending fried foods and coconut milk/cream rich curries. The principles of Thai food as especially pleasing to the palate with most dishes combining an element of salt, sweet, spicy and sour... The combination works well and is very pleasing to both the mouth and the stomach!
This is my take on a southeast asian classic, fresh papaya salad and it's absolutely delicious and so versatile you can add in whatever else you like because most ingredients will work. Here is the recipe but remember you can substitite the papaya with matchstick pieces of mango or any other fruit like grated green apple and you can substitute the chicken with prawns, pork, beef or just remove the meat entirely.
Crunchy Asian Chicken Salad (serves 2 as a main meal or 4 as a starter)
2 chicken breasts
Schwartz chicken seasoning
250g white cabbage, finely shredded
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 unripe papaya (choose a hard one), peeled, deseeded and grated
6 spring onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped (stalks and all)
Good handful of salted peannuts, chopped **optional**
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
Juice of a whole lime
2 tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce
2 teaspoons of fish sauce
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
2 teaspoons of olive oil
Preheat a frying pan on a medium heat (low-med if using gas) and rub some oil onto your chicken breasts, seasoning well with Schwartz chicken seasoning on both sides and cook your chicken breasts gently so they cook through but brown nicely on both sides (usually about 8 minutes each side depending on the size). Cut the breast through the centre to ensure its cooked, if not, finish cooking the raw area and then remove from pan and shred the chicken using a sharp nice on a chopping board and set aside.
In a large bowl (I like using wide, flat bowls)and add your shredded cabbage, grated carrot, grated papaya, spring onions and mix welll using your hands. Mix together all the ingredients for your dressing and add the chicken to the bowl, pour over your dressing and mix well again, before adding your coriander and chopped peanuts. One final mix and you are ready to serve. The more you allow the sauce to penetrate the salad, the softer the vegetables become, but they never lose their crunch and it makes a perfect lunch for the following day!