Here in Thailand fruits are often incorporated into salads as well as to savory dishes.The sweetness of fruit combined with some saltiness, bitterness, and heat from chilies upends the whole idea of what salads are or what they might be. And don’t limit your fruit choices to just tropical ones. Summer and fall fruits further north will also shine with a whole new range of flavor bites from Asia.
I have used the Thai Basil Cashew sauce/dressing from my previous post for this salad. This sauce includes the pillars of traditional Thai flavors; sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and bitter. An ideal combination of flavors that will lighten, spice up, and cool down some of your summer meals wherever you live.
Spicy Thai Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Salad with Basil Cashew Dressing Serves 4
The Thai pineapples I’ve used in this recipe are considerably smaller than those you find in the west. They tend to be very sweet, tender, and much more flavorsome, and well worth seeking out in Asian markets. They are often sold already prepared and ready for eating too!
Or, do it yourself. See video. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zM12_DHt6v4)
Prepare the Thai basil cashew sauce (see recipe here) and Thai sweet chili sauce in advance.
- 2 plump skinless boneless chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally making 4 fillets, grilled
- 4 small pineapples, outer skin removed, grilled
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup fine carrot julienne
- 1 small Chinese cabbage, thinly sliced
- small head radicchio (or red cabbage)
- thinly sliced red shallot, sliced into thin rings
- Thai basil cashew sauce
- Thai sweet chili sauce (see recipe below)
- fresh basil leaves s garnish
- fresh coriander leaves as garnish
- ½ cup whole cashews as garnish
- fresh lime wedges as garnish
Prepare and grill the chicken fillets and pineapples an hour before you intend to assemble the salad.
Combine the oil, lime juice, and salt in a shallow tray and stir to combine. Add the chicken fillets and turn them over several times until they are covered with the marinade and set aside for one hour.
Fire up the grill or grill pan until very hot. Place the chicken on the grill, or in the grill pan, and grill until the fillets are well marked. Then turn the fillets and grill until well marked on the other side. Then turn the fillets once again placing then at at 45 degrees to create a crisscross grilling markings on the fillets. When marked remove the fillets to a plate and set aside.
Roll the pineapples in the marinade and place them on the grill, or in the grill pan, and grill, turning as needed until they are marked on all sides. Remove and set aside.
Place carrot julienne, Chinese cabbage, sliced radicchio (or red cabbage), and sliced shallots in a medium bowl and toss to combine. The mixture will resemble what we call a slaw in the west. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve the salad.
Slice the chicken fillets at a 45 degree angle across the grain of the meat and set aside.
Cut through the grilled pineapples, making thin rounds, and then cut the rounds in half, and set aside.
Spoon the Thai sweet chili sauce over the chilled prepared salad (slaw) and toss until evenly coated.
Set out individual shallow salad plates and mound the dressed salad (slaw) in the center of each plate. Arrange slices of grilled chicken and grilled pineapple slices alternately across the top of the slaw. Garnish with a few sprigs of coriander leaves, and a fresh whole basil leaf. Top the salads with cashews and add a slice of fresh lime to each plate. Serve with a bowl of extra Thai basil cashew sauce on the table.
Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Thai red chilies, including half of the seeds
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped small Thai green chilies
- 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt + more to taste
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 3/4 cup water + more as needed
Place the red chilies , green chilies, and garlic in a small mortar and grind to a pulp.
Place the sugar, salt, vinegar, and water in a stainless sauce pan. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar and salt has dissolved. Then add the chilies and garlic mixture and stir to combine. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by some and the sauce has thickened somewhat. Taste and add salt if needed. Set aside to cool before serving