Like many of you I'm sure, I like to travel. That said, I don't think I'm much of a tourist. I usually don't have too much interest in popular tourist attractions, preferring instead (wherever I maybe) to search out the local food markets and making interesting food discoveries. Returning from an overseas trip you are more likely to find my suitcase weighed down with jars of olive oil, tins of anchovies, or slabs of nougat, than bulging at the seams with souvenirs and clothes. Case in point, I recently returned from a trip to Bali with blocks of peanut sate sauce and 50 beautiful vanilla beans. Whilst on my stay in Bali I did a couple of great cooking classes (my other favourite thing to do when I'm travelling anywhere), and whilst we learnt how to make the delicious peanut sauce that you frequently finding accompany sate sticks or used in Gado Gado (an Indonesian salad of assorted steamed vegetables, often served with tofu and eggs, and liberally doused in peanut sauce), it turns out that most of the locals don't actually bother making their own peanut sauce, but use the concentrated blocks of it. It keeps really well, is easy to use - simply break off a large chunk and dissolve in boiling water - and tastes every bit as good as making your own.
So now I have a stash of peanut sauce blocks, and I've been looking for different and interesting ways to use it. Inspiration this week came from Erin at The Spiffy Cookie. Erin's blog was my Secret Recipe Club assignment this month and her Crunchy Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing was the perfect dish to not only use up some leftover roast chicken, but to also provide a home for some of my peanut sauce.
But before I move onto the recipe, let me tell you a little bit more about Erin and the Secret Recipe Club. The club has over a hundred members, divided into four groups, and each month one member is assigned (in secret) to another member from their group. That person then selects a recipe (or more) to make, photograph, and prepare a blog post - all in secret. Then everyone in the group posts their recipe on the same day, and of course the secret is then out. It's always a thrill to find out who has posted something from your own blog, and is a great way to meet and discover some new blogs. If you are a food blogger and interested in joining the Secret Recipe Club, be sure to check out the Join SRC page. As I mentioned this month I was assigned to The Spiffy Cookie, hosted by Erin, who has a PhD in Microbiology - yep, this girl is really smart - and loves to cook and bake for her family and friends. She tries to stick to the healthier side of things foodwise, but admits that her favourite "food group" is dessert. Erin also likes to keep herself fit with a regular work out regime, and to get crafty painting on canvas as well as ceramics. She is a very prolific blogger, and so offered literally hundreds of recipes to choose from, and I've bookmarked a few to try at a later date: Peanut Butter & Chocolate French Toast (yes, really!), Dark Cherry Chocolate Almond Granola Bars (what better way to start the day?), Gnocchetti with Asparagus & Garlic-Gorgonzola Sauce (it being asparagus season here, this one was a serious front runner), but it was the Crunchy Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing that ticked all the boxes for me.
I varied some of the ingredients in the salad a little simply to suit what I had on hand or was readily available - for example, Erin used radicchio in her salad which was not available, so I added some baby spinach leaves in with the lettuce, and used some purple carrots for the colour. I also subbed in some rocket leaves (arugula) for the coriander (cilantro) which I couldn't get, and replaced peanuts with cashew nuts because that's what I had on hand. I'm also giving you here Erin's recipe for the peanut dressing, though I did (as I mentioned) sub in some of my Balinese peanut sauce. In terms of the actual salad ingredients here, I don't think you need to be too fussy with quantities here - use what you have in whatever proportions you like and depending on how many people you need to feed.
Crunchy Chicken Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing
Adapted slightly from this recipe
at The Spiffy Cookie
baby spinach leaves
orange carrot, very finely julienned
purple carrot, very finely julienned
red pepper, very finely sliced
cooked chicken, shredded
rocket leaves, roughly torn
roasted, unsalted cashew nuts
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
juice of 1 lime
1/8 teaspoon sriracha or hot sauce
Begin by making the dressing. Whisk together peanut butter, honey, soy sauce, lime juice and sriracha in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in hot water until you reach the consistency you want. Set aside.
Assemble all your salad ingredients, except the cashew nuts and noodles, in a large bowl. Toss together well, then arrange on a serving platter, or in individual bowls. Drizzle the dressing over the salad liberally, and top with the nuts and noodles.
I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did, and visit the links below to check out all the other great dishes my Secret Recipe Club friends made.