I was thinking about this dish for quite a while. I knew I wanted to crumb the chicken in coconut and pair it with an Asian style salad but I also wanted it to be different from other Asian chicken dishes I had done in the past, which can prove to be a difficult task when you are creating recipes as often as I do. In the end, I realised it doesn’t really matter as long as it tastes great, is easy to prepare and includes ingredients that are easy to come by. The tender chicken fillets coated in red curry and coconut were so crispy, yet juicy and tender. The salad was full of punchy Asian herbs and the noodles were immersed in a creamy, aromatic coconut dressing that pulled the whole dish together. It was everything I had imagined and it was delicious.
Prep time: 30 Minutes Cooking time: 20 Minutes $$ Medium Budget
Serves 4 (easy to multiply for more)
Oil for frying (peanut, rice bran, canola)
12 chicken tenderloins (I catered for 3 per person which was generous, you could also use breast fillets but I would slice them in half crossways to thin them out)
2 tbs of red curry paste
1/2 a cup of panko breadcrumbs
1 cup of shredded coconut
Sliced red chilli and coriander sprigs for garnish
For the Salad:
200gm of vermicelli noodles, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes
11/2 punnets of grape tomatoes (I use the Coles Perino brand in red and gold)
150gm of sugar snap peas, strings removed and sliced diagonally (you could use cucumber slices or snow peas as a substitute)
1/2 a red onion, thinly sliced top to bottom
1/2 a cup of mint leaves
1 cup of coriander leaves
1 long red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
For the Dressing:
150ml of coconut cream
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbs of fish sauce
1 tbs of palm or brown sugar
To crumb the chicken, place the egg and curry paste in a shallow bowl and whisk to combine. If it appears a little too thick just add a teaspoon or two of water. Combine the coconut and breadcrumbs on a plate and toss with your finger tips to combine. Dip a chicken tender in the egg mixture so that it is thoroughly coated and then place on the crumbs. Use your fingers to coat the chicken so that it has a thick layer of coconut all over and pop on a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken and if you have time, pop them in the fridge for 10-20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the dish. This will help the coating to stick to the chicken.
Combine the tomatoes, blanched sugar snap peas, onion, mint, chilli and coriander in a bowl, toss to combine and set aside.
Place the dressing ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk until the sugar has dissolved, set aside.
Preheat the oven to 160C.
Heat a large heavy based frypan to nice and hot and cover the bottom of the pan with the oil fo your choice. To test that the oil is hot enough, pop a pinch of the breadcrumb mixture in the pan and if it sizzles immediately it is hot enough. Cook the chicken, in batches until golden on each side (approximately 4-5 minutes). Once golden, place them on a lined tray in the oven to keep warm and crisp while you cook the remainder of the chicken.
Drain the noodles that have been soaking in cold water and cover them with boiling water for about 30 seconds. Drain again and put them in a bowl with 1/3 of the dressing and give them a little toss to combine. Spoon a few tablespoons of the dressing over the salad and toss to combine before serving.
To plate the dish, divide the noodles between 4 serving plates and spoon the salad along side. Top with the crumbed coconut chicken and spoon the dressing over and around the salad before topping with coriander leaves and chilli slices.
Leftover coriander? You may want to cook this, great for lunch boxes!