Thai Chicken Salad (San Francisco Chronicle’s Top Recipe of 1986)


This attractive salad from Bruce Cost has a wonderful interplay of bright, balanced flavors. The recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon Sa-te oil or Chinese chile oil, but you can add a little more, if you like. Cost wrote for the Food section of the San Francisco Chronicle from 1986-1996. He is the author of Asian Ingredients: A Guide to the Foodstuffs of China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, Ginger East to West: The Classic Collection of Recipes, Techniques, and Lore and Big Bowl Noodles and Rice: Fresh Asian Cooking from the Renowned Restaurant (one of my all-time fave cookbooks! :))


1 whole chicken, cut into large pieces
1/2 cucumber
3 red or green chiles, seeded, cut into matchstick shreds
1/4 medium-size red onion, thinly sliced
1 heaping tablespoon fine matchstick shreds of fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
5 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon or more Sa-te oil or Chinese chile oil
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Roasted, unsalted peanuts for garnish


Put the chicken into a pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil and skim the surface. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let the chicken sit in the hot water for 25 minutes. Remove and let cool. (At this point, the chicken may be refrigerated overnight; reserve the stock for another purpose.)

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin. With your hands, pull the meat apart into shreds about 1/4-inch wide and 1 1/2 inches long; put them in a bowl.

Peel and seed the cucumber and cut it into matchstick shreds. Put these in a bowl with the chiles, onion, ginger and garlic and toss with the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, salt and the oils and let sit for 30 minutes. Add these seasonings to the chicken and mix thoroughly. Stir in the cilantro leaves, garnish with peanuts and serve.

Serves 6

Per serving: 220 calories, 30 g protein, 8 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat (2 g saturated), 86 mg cholesterol, 951 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.