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Burma-Style Chicken Salad

Richard Jung

Servings: 2 as a light lunch; 4 as an appetizer

Almost any leftover cooked ingredient can be made into salad in Burmese cuisine, and often is. If you have leftover cooked chicken, for instance, after making chicken broth from whole legs or roasting a chicken, transform it into this refreshing salad. Serve as a light main course for lunch, or as an appetizer.

This recipe is excerpted from Burma: Rivers of Flavor. Read our review.


For the fried shallots and shallot oil

  • 1 cup peanut oil
  • 2 cups (about 1/2 lb.) thinly sliced Asian or European shallots

For the chicken salad

  • About 2 cups large bite-sized pieces cooked chicken (cut or pull the chicken into pieces)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots, soaked in cold water from 10 minutes and drained
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp. Shallot Oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. minced green cayenne chile, or to taste
  • 1 Tbs. toasted chickpea flour (optional; see tip below)
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. Fried Shallots
  • Scant 1/2 cup chopped coriander or mint, or Vietnamese coriander


For the fried shallots and shallot oil

  • Place a wide heavy skillet or a large stable wok over medium-high heat and add the oil. Toss in a slice of shallot. As the oil heats, it will rise to the surface, sizzling lightly.
  • When it’s reached the surface, add the rest of the shallots, carefully, so you don’t splash yourself with the oil, and lower the heat to medium. (The shallots may seem crowded, but they’ll shrink as they cook.) Stir gently and frequently with a long-handled wooden spoon or a spider. The shallots will bubble as they give off their moisture. If they start to brown early, in the first 5 minutes, lower the heat a little more. After about 10 minutes, they should start to color. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the pan or to each other, until they have turned a golden brown, another 3 minutes or so.
  • Line a plate with paper towels. Use tongs or a spider to lift a clump of fried shallots out of the oil, pausing for a moment to shake off excess oil into the pan, then place on the paper towel. Turn off the heat, transfer the remaining shallots to the plate, and blot gently with another paper towel. Separate any clumps and toss them a little, then let them air-dry 5 to 10 minutes, so they crisp up and cool. (If your kitchen is very hot and humid, they may not crisp up; don’t worry, the flavor will still be there.)
  • Transfer the shallots to a clean, dry, widemouthed glass jar. Once they have cooled completely, seal tightly. Transfer the oil to another clean dry jar, using all but the very last of it, which will have some stray pieces of shallot debris. (You can set that oil aside for stir-frying.) Once the oil has cooled completely, cover tightly and store in a cool dark place.

For the chicken salad

  • Place the chicken in a shallow serving bowl. Add the shallots and toss.
  • Mix together the lime juice, shallot oil, salt, and green chile in a small bowl or cup. Pour over the salad and, using your hands, mix thoroughly. If you have the time, let stand for 10 minutes.
  • Just before serving, add the toasted chickpea flour, if you wish, the fried shallots and herbs, and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

    naomi duguid burma: rivers of flavor cookbook


You’ll end up with about 3/4 cup fried shallots and 1-1/4 cups shallot oil, more than you need for this salad, but they both keep well and have many uses: drizzle the oil on salads or freshly cooked greens, and use a handful of shallots to finish and flavor a salad.Chickpea flour is available in South Asian groceries and some specialty stores. To toast it, place a cast-iron or other skillet over medium-high heat, add the flour, and use a wooden spoon to stir it frequently as it heats and starts to toast. After about 6 or 7 minutes, it will start to change color. Lower the heat a little and continue to stir as it gets a little more color, then remove from the heat and continue to stir for another minute as the pan starts to cool.Credit: Excerpted from Burma: Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2012.


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