B.C. recipes: Chef David Hawksworth's spicy chicken and green papaya salad

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      For a change of pace when it comes to salads, here’s one inspired by Southeast Asian cuisine.

      It comes courtesy of none other than renowned Vancouver chef David Hawksworth, from Hawksworth the Cookbook.  

      “This is a healthy salad with lots of texture and flavour,” Hawksworth says. “When we put it on the menu at Bel Café, it was so popular that the cooks couldn’t keep up with the knife work, so they started spiralizing the carrots and daikon instead.”

      Spicy chicken and green papaya salad

      Yield: serves 6

      Note: The chicken thighs will develop a lot more flavour if they are marinated the day before, and up to 24 hours before grilling.


      30 mL (2 tbsp) canola oil
      20 g (1 tbsp) thinly sliced ginger
      5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
      1⁄2 stalk lemongrass, thinly sliced
      10 g (2 tsp) palm sugar
      70 mL (5 tbsp) soy sauce
      125 mL (1⁄2 cup) hoisin
      50 mL (3 tbsp) sesame oil
      30 mL (2 tbsp) Sriracha-style chili sauce 
      20 g (1 tbsp) tamarind paste
      6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

      50g (1⁄4 cup) palm sugar
      2 lime leaves
      1⁄2 fresh jalapeno or red Thai chili, deseeded
      15 mL (1 tbsp) fish sauce 
      250 mL (1 cup) lime juice 
      1 shallot, finely chopped 

      Spicy papaya salad
      200 g (7 oz) vermicelli noodles 
      1 carrot, peeled
      1⁄2 small daikon radish
      1⁄4 green papaya, peeled, deseeded, and julienned
      100 g (1 cup) bean sprouts
      1⁄2 bunch cilantro, stems removed
      75 g (1⁄2 cup) toasted cashews, crushed
      1⁄2 red jalapeno, deseeded and thinly sliced


      Heat the canola oil in a sauté pan over medium heat, then add the ginger, garlic, and lemongrass and cook for about 3 minutes.
      Add the palm sugar and soy sauce and continue to cook until the sugar has dissolved.
      Transfer to a blender and add the sesame oil, chili sauce, and tamarind paste.
      Blend on high until smooth, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl.
      Toss the chicken thighs in the marinade then refrigerate overnight (and up to 24 hours).
      Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F).
      Remove the chicken from the marinade and scrape off any excess.
      Using a grill pan or barbecue on high heat, char the chicken to create grill marks on both sides.
      Transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment paper and roast in the oven for 7 minutes.
      Remove from the oven and set aside to cool before slicing into 1 centimetre (3⁄8 inch) strips.

      Bring the palm sugar, lime leaves, chili, and 60 mL (1⁄4 cup) of water to a boil to dissolve the sugar.
      Transfer to a blender and blend for 1 minute until combined, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve.
      Add the fish sauce, lime juice, and shallot, and season with salt.
      Refrigerate to cool.

      Place the noodles in a large heatproof bowl and sprinkle with salt.
      Pour boiling water overtop to cover them completely, and allow to stand according to the package instructions, about 6 minutes, stirring from time to time.
      Drain, rinse with cold water, then drain again. This stops the cooking process and prevents the noodles from sticking together.
      Cut the carrot and daikon radish into fine julienne strips or create ribbons using a spiralizer.
      Combine with the green papaya, bean sprouts, and noodles, and gently toss with some of the vinaigrette.
      Divide between 6 bowls and top with slices of chicken.
      Garnish with cilantro, cashews, and jalapeno slices.