This is such a light and refreshing salad, bursting with fresh herbs and cooling young coconut, it makes for a perfect lunch or light dinner on a hot day.
1 whole young coconut (drinking coconut), flesh chopped and water reserved
splash of fish sauce
1 large free-range chicken breast, skinless
200g bean-thread noodles
3 handfuls beansprouts, blanched for a few seconds in boiling water and refreshed in cold water
1 tbsp light oil
1 lime, juiced
1 handful Vietnamese mint leaves
1 handful Thai basil leaves
1 handful perilla leaves (from Asian grocers), small leaves whole or larger leaves shredded
1 handful shaved coconut, toasted
nuoc cham sauce (see recipe here)
1. Add the coconut water and enough water to just cover the chicken breast to a small pan. Add a splash of fish sauce, bring to the simmer, add the chicken breast and poach for eight minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to stand for two minutes in the water (it will finish cooking in the hot water, but cooking time may vary a little depending on the size of the breast). Remove the chicken and rest before slicing thinly.
2. Cook the noodles as per the packet instructions, refresh in cold water, then cut into short lengths.
3. Blanch the beansprouts for a few seconds in boiling water. Drain and gently squeeze out any moisture.
4. Add the noodles to a bowl with a dash of oil, stir through the coconut flesh, lime juice, mint, Thai basil and perilla leaves, reserving some herbs to garnish.
5. Place the noodle mix on a plate with the beansprouts, chicken, toasted coconut and remaining herbs, and spoon over the nuoc cham generously.
Drink: Iced tea