By Carolyn Worthington
It’s not often when you try new recipe for dinner hoping it’s healthy but good, too, and your athletic son, says, “Wow, I could have this every night of the week.” Phew!
This is what I heard when I tested Donal Skehan’s “Sticky Sesame and Sriracha Chicken with Chopped Salad,” recipe recently.
As a Francophile cook, I learned the basics from the works of the classical chefs from Jacques Pepin, Escoffier and those who were passionate about the French way, like Julia Child and James Beard. Sriracha and kale were not in my wheelhouse.
In the ever evolving world of food and recipes, however, I’ve evolved and added Fusion, Mexican, Spanish and health food nut influences, to my batterie de la cuisine. I embraced kale – tip toeing in with kale chips mind you and now serve kale salads on a regular basis.
So, what could be new?
Along comes young Donal Skehan of Irish descent to knock your socks off with creative combinations you hadn’t thought of before that are not only delicious, look outrageous but are healthy.
Who is Donal Skehan?
Donal Skehan is an award-winning Irish food writer and TV star. He has published five cookbooks and hosts Star Kids on the Food Network, Kitchen Hero on RTE One, Junior MasterChef on BBC One, Mitt Kok (in Swedish) on TV4 in Sweden, Grandma’s Boy on Fox International, and Follow Donal on Food Network (UK). He recently appeared on Rachel Ray, The Today Show and Steve Harvey.
He’s only 30 and has made a big splash on the food scene … a rising star to watch.
His new book Fresh, trust me, is NOT just another “healthy recipe” cookbook. You will definitely want to add some of these recipes as keepers in your menu rotation.
The catalyst behind this book was his own personal health situation. In spite of his youth, his long hours of working even through weekends, juggling many projects and traveling took its toll. Over-extending does not age discriminate.
According to Skehan, the “serious kick in the butt for a change in my approach to both life and food, came only recently, when I found myself barely able to stand up while filming a television show in Vietnam. Despite our guide’s kind offer to visit a local miracle man and a medicinal sauna, I wound up in a Vietnamese hospital, pumped full of drugs. A week later, still feeling dreadful and now on my second round of antibiotics, I headed home to perform a string of twenty theater dates for a live-cooking tour in Ireland. I hit absolute exhaustion, a big fat concrete wall; I never knew I could be that tired and feel so awful. After this complete collapse, I vowed never to get to that place again.
These health issues inspired Skehan to write Fresh, chockful of interesting ways with seasonal fruits and vegetables, grains and a secondary emphasis on high-quality meat and seafood. Beautifully photographed by Skehan, you will enjoy flipping through the pages to see which recipe to try next.
Some of our favorites are:
Post-Workout Omelet, with a filling of a lovely combination of sautéed rainbow chard, cherry tomatoes, salty feta cheese, flavored with garlic.
Tahini Crunch Noodle Salad, a kale salad enhanced with carrots, cukes, cooked flat rice noodles all tossed in a tahini dressing flavored with soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and a chopped chili.
Nutty Kale Salad with Red Cabbage, Mango, and Sesame Dressing, another kale salad with red cabbage and ripe mango; Roasted Squash Salad with Sriracha Yogurt, another great salad with roasted squash as the name suggests along with fennel, lentils, chickpeas enhanced with a cilantro salsa and sriracha-flavored yogurt.
Roasted Sweet Potato 4 Ways, ideas for how to make the nutritious sweet potato your next “fast” food.
And, finally, our favorite, Sticky Sesame and Sriracha Chicken with Chopped Salad, which uses chicken thighs, cut into small pieces, browned in a wok, and tossed with sriracha sauce, ginger, lime, honey, soy sauce and sesame oil … all served on a salad of sliced cabbage, kale (there it is again!), red and green peppers, toasted cashews and sesame seeds.
Here is the recipe.
Sticky Sesame and Sriracha Chicken with Chopped Salad
The rise in popularity of sriracha sauce, a spicy hot sauce from Southeast Asia, is universal. Bottles of this tangy sweet substance are no longer just a staple of Thai street food stalls, and can be found in supermarkets everywhere. It can be added to noodles and stir fries for a fiery kick or, as in this sticky chicken dish, to a crunchy salad.
Makes 4 servings
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
4–8 skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
5 tablespoons sriracha sauce
Thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
For the salad:
½ head red cabbage, finely sliced
5 oz. kale (about 1/3 bunch), leaves torn from stem and finely sliced
2 carrots, julienned
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and cut into bite-size pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, deseeded and cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup frozen edamame beans, thawed
Handful of cashews, toasted
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
Large handful of cilantro
Heat the oil in a wok or a large frying pan over medium-high heat and fry the chicken pieces until just browned on all sides. Add the sriracha sauce, ginger, lime zest, half the lime juice, honey, soy sauce, and sesame oil, and toss to coat. Cover and simmer for 8 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly and the chicken is completely cooked through.
Meanwhile, prepare the salad. Place the red cabbage, kale, and carrots in a large mixing bowl with the remaining lime juice and sesame oil. Massage the kale until it becomes tender, and then mix in the remaining salad ingredients.
Serve the sriracha chicken with the salad, and garnish with the sesame seeds and cilantro.
Reprinted with permission from Fresh, ©2017 by Donal Skehan, Sterling Epicure. Photography by Donal Skehan. Hardcover.