Szechuan Chicken Salad with Peanut Sauce and Jersey Royals

Once again I find myself facing leftover roast chicken. We cooked a chicken on Saturday night, using my ancient beehive oven in the garden for the first time in years. God it was good, the bird succulent, the skin deliciously charred and I had enough leftover chicken for two salads. Last night it was a wonderful pile-up of leftovers from a River Café ( take away. Thick slices of pale aubergines roasted in their bright pink wood-burning stove, braised green beans with garlic, herbs and their peppery olive oil and roasted datterini tomatoes that I could live on, were topped with lemon crushed avocado and RC broad beans in olive oil. With a few leftover fried potatoes on the side, this was heaven. The other leftover is Bang Bang Chicken as this salad is known on Chinese menus up and down the land (and maybe still at Le Caprice and/or The Ivy; Charles Fontaine, I think I’m right in saying, re-worked it after Chris Corbin noted it at a Szechuan restaurant in Earls Court). I remember giving a recipe years ago during the Troubles and whoever I was writing for asked me to change the name. It’s a similarly good pile of textures and flavours and easy to adapt depending on how much leftover roast chicken you have but these quantities will feed two very handsomely. I love this salad with hot new potatoes, providing the perfect excuse to invest in Jersey Royals but it is quite satisfying without.

Serves 2-4

Prep: 15 min

Cook: 10 min

3 tbsp peanut butter

1 tbsp sweet chilli dipping sauce

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp sesame seeds

400g Jersey Royal or other new potatoes

200-400g roast chicken

6 spring onions

15cm length cucumber

1 medium carrot

15 coriander leaves

10 mint leaves

2 limes

Boil the kettle. Place the peanut butter in a bowl placed over a small pan half-filled with boiling water from the kettle. Stir in the chilli dipping sauce then gradually beat in the two oils to make a thick pouring sauce. Set aside but do not refrigerate. Use remaining boiling water to cook the potatoes. Briefly stir fry the sesame seeds in a frying pan until light golden.  Pull apart the chicken, tearing into thick, approximately 5cm shreds. For this salad I like everything sliced thinly but it’s a matter of taste as far as the chicken is concerned. Use a potato peeler to peel the cucumber, halve lengthways and use a teaspoon to gouge out the seeds. Run the potato peeler the length of the cucumber cutting long, thin slices. Trim and peel the carrot and slice in the same way. Trim and finely slice the spring onions, utilizing as much of the green as seems suitable. Finely chop the mint and roughly chop the coriander; set aside a little of both. Mix carrot, cucumber, onion and herbs together with juice from the limes and half the sesame seeds. Arrange on a platter or plates. Place the shredded chicken on top. Spoon over the sauce and sprinkle with remaining sesame seeds with potatoes on the side.