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Hue Chicken Salad

The chicken preparation in this recipe is based on the Chinese method of submerging the whole bird in boiling water. The original recipe also calls for rau ram, the Vietnamese coriander leaves, but mint leaves work well, too. It's served as a snack with beer, as a side with chicken rice soup, or just with a bowl of rice.

Sea salt
1/2 chicken, thigh and leg scored for faster cooking
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 small yellow onion, sliced paper-thin and rinsed (about 1/2 cup)
1 serrano chili, chopped, or to taste (optional)
1 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 butter lettuce leaves, preferably inner leaves

Fill a large pot with 2 quarts water, add 1 tablespoon sea salt and bring to a vigorous boil. Add the chicken and bring the water back to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let the chicken sit in the covered pot for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside to cool.

Remove and discard the skin and bones from the chicken. Hand shred the meat into 1/4-inch strips and place in bowl. Add black pepper, 1 teaspoon salt and sugar and gently massage into chicken. Add the lime juice, sliced onion, chili, mint leaves and oil and toss gently.

To serve, line a serving plate with the lettuce leaves and place the chicken salad on top. Serves 4.

Adapted from "Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table" by Mai Pham

Thursday, June 20, 2002

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