Goi Ga AKA Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Yummmm

So, DiniBlini, is still a food blog in it’s essence. Just that I haven’t been repping that side of it that hard, recently.

PZ sent me a picture of some amazing risotto she had made a couple of weeks ago – which she had served with what looked like an enticing salad.

Since I’ve never met a salad I don’t like I was all “Hayyyy what’s that? Is it tasty? Can I get the recipe??”

PZ obliged and sent me her version – which I promptly adapted – and messed up.

The first time round I made it, it looked like this:

Goi Ga close-up
Goi Ga close-up

Which is to say – it was GORGEOUS but I forgot to put sugar in the dressing and left the onions I had marinated in vinegar on the counter and didn’t put it in the salad. I also added the quinoa which I had prepared to make it a full meal on the counter and only added it after I was halfway through. Which made me sad. It also made me hate my counter.

The second day I prepared the salad – I was ready. Onions went in! Honey (I didn’t feel like sugar), went in! Quinoa went in! And it was great. This was a salad on a budget (Let’s face it Chinese cabbage is a lot cheaper than those mixed salad leaves) and it does a body (and wallet) good.

Serves 2 – or 1 hungry girl, twice

Protein
1 chicken thigh
1/4 tsp salt
olive oil

Salad
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 – 3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 head of Chinese cabbage, about 500gm, quartered, cored and cut crosswise into 1/4″ ribbons
1 carrot, peeled and finely shredded
1/2 bunch chopped coriander/cilantro leaves
1/2 cup cooked quinoa

Dressing
1 to 2 chillies, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
Pinch of salt
1 tsp honey
4 Tbsps fish sauce
2 Tbsps lime juice
3 Tbsps water

Protein
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.

Toss the chicken with a bit of olive oil.

Lay it on the grill bit and bake for 20 to 30 minutes – flipping once halfway through.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Chop into bite sized chunks.

Original recipe: Fill saucepan half full of water, add salt, let the water reach a rolling boil on high heat, and drop in the chicken. When the water bubbles at the edges, remove from the heat, cover tightly and let it stand 20 minutes. Remove the chicken and reserve the stock for another use. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it by hand and let cool to room temperature.

Dressing
Pound the chili, garlic and salt into a paste. Scrape into a bowl and add the honey, fish sauce, lime juice and water. Combine well.

Salad
Place the sliced onion in a small bowl, add enough white vinegar to cover the slices and let sit for 15 minutes.

Drain the onion, add it to the chicken, along with the cabbage, carrot, coriander/cilantro and quinoa.

Toss the salad with the dressing just before serving.

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Weekend Meal Prep YOUCANDO

Prepping for prep
Prepping for prep

Every weekend I set aside about two to three hours, to plan how I’m going to take over the world.

No seriously, because the only way that I can take over the world is if I eat well-balanced, nutritious food that will then give me enough energy to take over the world. Right?

But more seriously this is my post about meal prepping on weekends. I got into meal prepping for two simple reasons 1) Shutterbean and 2) IHAVENOTIME.

Let me explain.

1) Shutterbean is this fantastic blog written by Tracy who cooks these wonderfully healthy and varied meals not just for her blog, but also for her family (her husband and son). And she achieves this by being organized and prepping the ingredients and pre-cooking certain items on the weekend. Check out her awe/jealousy-inspiring meal prep grams here, here and here.

2) IHAVENOTIME. I know, I have a choice in life, I can stop saying I’m so busy and sit down and smell the roses… but guess what? I don’t want to do that. I want to run and go to yoga and hang out with my friends and go to work and read and do my laundry and read a book and get 8 hours of sleep AND eat somewhat healthily. SO. That means being a little organized and getting some stuff prepped over the weekend.

I don’t prep like Tracy, since I don’t have a family, but what I do is that I have a simple rule. I try not to eat more than one meal out a day, so if I’m eating dinner out I’ll pack a lunch for work, if not I’ll eat the dinner for the week.

I hard-boil 5 eggs for breakfast and make either a muesli or granola every two weeks which I enjoy with greek yogurt. That is my breakfast all week – minus the one day I get my chocolate almond croissant from Tiong Bahru Bakery.

I prep a salad for the week by buying spinach leaves or romaine (they keep fresh for about three days), grill vegetables (usually a combo of carrots, beets, peppers, etc), grill chicken, make a salad dressing (loving this one right now) and cook 1/2 cup of dried quinoa (about 5 meals worth for me). That lasts me for about five meals and mid-week I usually re-do the whole process.

This takes me about 2 to 3 hours, with plenty of time in between to dance around my apartment or do more laundry.

Totally doable right? And I’m not advocating an oat and salad filled existence.

Make whatever the hell you want.

Mel, my apartment mate, preps awesome tofu-veggie pasta salads every weekend.

Another good friend puts together protein and fish and fruit every night for her BYOL.

Just think about eating and living intentionally. Because – it’s kind of awesome.

Peanut Butter Soba Salad with Chicken

All DA goodness
All DA goodness
It seems like everyone I meet is on the salad bandwagon.

What did you make for dinner Preetha?

Oh I threw together a selection of greens, smoked mackerel and topped it with chili flakes.

Random person I just met – what did you have for dinner last night?

Oh I pan-fried some salmon and had it with a salad leaves and pumpkin leaves with a cranberry dressing.

The hell?

When did we all turn into this health conscious zombies?

To be honest I think I’m just saying this because I’m not the special one anymore.

I mean last year, I was feeling like this smug asshole, who was all – I’m clearly the one who has her life figured out because I eat quinoa and protein and healthy oils and #eatsocleansodamnclean.

Then I visited Preetha in the UK and realized, girlfriend has been doing the same all day errday, and doesn’t make a big deal out of it.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, everybody is basically eating healthy. We should all be patting ourselves on the back. And if you don’t here’s my bid to convince you to do so.

Naked salad! Oh no!
Naked salad! Oh no!

The issue with eating healthy or not eating healthy, it seems, is that people perceive that it takes a decent amount of effort.

And that is true, buying your dinner is an infinitely easier exercise than figuring out what you want to cook, shopping for the ingredients, cutting/cleaning/preparing the components and then eating. I mean where does one get the time? I’ll tell you when, it’s that time you’re spending watching another show you don’t need to watch, having a drink you don’t need to have or just following everysingleGODDAMNLINKONFACEBOOKYOUCANSEE.

Excuse me while I get off my high horse. The thing is, when you make food that is good for you and that tastes good, you automatically feel, well, good. This is evidenced by the crazy amount of energy I have, the fact that my skin is clearer when I eat like this (adult-acne sufferers rejoice!) and that I can push harder at work and exercise.

So a week ago, I made this Peanut Butter Soba Salad with Chicken and ate it for dinners. I ate it for lunches when I knew I would be eating out.

Maybe I even got a little sick of it. But it tasted good, was healthier than other stuff I could eat and I prepped it on the weekend so it took minimal time on weekdays.

Think about it, food is your fuel – don’t you want to upgrade to premium?

Next week I promise to explain HOW I prep the food.

Spinach Salad with ALL THE ROASTED VEGGIES

The original spinach salad + all the veggies
The original spinach salad + all the veggies

I have fallen back in love.

With eating salad!

I don’t know what happened but after I stopped trying to make eating salad a chore and devoted a bit more TLC to the process – I’ve started loving it. I’m literally just super excited to go home and eat dinner right now.

I put on some music.

Slipped into something comfortable.

Roasted some vegetables ahead of time.

Ok I didn’t do any of the above – but I did roast the vegetables.

And I was wearing my trademark too-ugly-to-be-seen-by-the-world-ever “home clothes.” You don’t want to know.

But I mean seriously – look, look, LOOK AT THIS

Veggies ready to be roasted - ALL the colors
Veggies ready to be grilled – ALL the colors

That happened yesterday afternoon. I roasted these beautiful babies and then I made some quinoa and the chicken and I just patted myself on the back.

Because that is the best Sunday my friends.

It seriously is.

My dinner prep for the week #winning
My dinner prep for the week #winning

Lemon and Red Wine Vinegar Kick-ASS Dressing – adapted from Martha Stewart
1 minced garlic pod

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp brown sugar
pinch of salt
a few twists of freshly ground black pepper
few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 Tbsps red-wine vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
5 Tbsps extra-virgin olive oil

Salad – you can decide the amounts you want, the chicken should work for about 2 servings
Baby Spinach
Broccoli / Pumpkin / Red Peppers / Carrots / Red Beets > any and all of these would be GREAT – also roast these the night before or earlier, just earlier, you need like 40 minutes
2 – 4 Tbsps Olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Grilled Chicken Thigh
1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked quinoa

First, preheat the oven to 175C/350C.

Cut whatever veggies you intend to roast into similar sized pieces.

Place on a tray and toss with olive oil, you decide the amount!

Season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking/browning/whatever.

Measure all the dressing ingredients into an old jam/mustard/whatever jar, as long as it’s glass. Shake vigorously.

Toss salad ingredients with the dressing.

It’s so good guys and the salad dressing = BEST.

My dinner tonight - yummm
My dinner tonight – yummm

No-Inspiration Salad with Honey Dijon Dressing

Doesn't look too bad eh?
Doesn’t look too bad eh?

Recently I have been feeling extremely uninspired by all the food I’ve been eating.

That’s really weird for me.

I’m that person who plans my meals two days ahead of time. I literally hum and do a chair dance when I’m eating something I like.

But these days I’ve just been feeling like – whatever man, I’ll eat it for energy but who cares what IT is.

I don’t know what’s happened.

I’m sleeping well and I’m not crying randomly – so it can’t be depression.

Maybe I just want my mom’s cooking?

I really don’t know.

So last week when I had to make my Monday dinner I was all BLAH, I don’t want to eat this salad I’ve already planned, BLAH, everything SUCKS! BLAH, I HATE MY LIFE, BLAH!!!!

So then I basically chopped up all the vegetables I had left and a stray baked chicken thigh. Added some leftover quinoa. And had a pretty decent salad.

What’s a girl gotta do to stay discontent around here??

Serves 1 hungry girl

Salad
Handful of mixed salad leaves
9 cherry tomatoes, half
1/2 Japanese cucumber, chopped
1/2 avocado, cubed
1 grilled chicken thigh, cubed
handful of roasted almonds
1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked quinoa

Honey Dijon Dressing (Recipe courtesy Alton Brown) – this is for two servings
2.5 Tbsps honey
1.5 Tbsps Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Serve as a dressing or a dip.

Toss salad ingredients with the dressing.

Enjoy. BLAH.

Salad Monday Fail

2015/01/img_5839.jpg
Exhaustion reigns today and I could not bring myself to make ANYTHING. So Salad Monday became Sandwich Monday. Or takeout Monday. Whichever.

It’s been one of those days where I had too little sleep the night before but work demanded 100% and then some. It’s weird how you can rise to the occasion even when you’re running on nothing. Actually that’s not true. I had chocolate 🙂

Goodnight world!

Last Resort Salad with Lemon Dijon Dressing

This was a salad that was borne out of desperation.

Last-resort salad in it's full glory
Last-resort salad in it’s full glory

Picture this.

It’s Thursday night and it’s 8:00pm I am ready to make my dinner. I had already gone to the grocery store two hours before and I got my salad leaves and MAH chicken.

I had gone for a run and I’m now showered and ready to EAT.

I should have the chicken ready by 8:30pm. I slit open the clear wrap on the chicken packet.

*Sniff*

*Sniff* *Sniff*

What the hell is that smell?

No it’s nothing. No, nevermind, it’s fine, I mean uncooked meat sometimes smells interesting. Right? Right.

Hmm.

Facetime beep boop boop sounds.

“Mom, MOM, can I eat chicken if its smells a little weird? Like just a bit?”

“Like how weird?”

“Like, just a bit. Nevermind I’m sure it’s ok.”

“Dini, just throw it away. Do you have eggs?”

“No Mom, it’s fine, really.”

Looks at chicken – takes a big sniff.

Facetime beep boop boop sounds.

“Mom I think I won’t eat it.”

“Good idea.”

BAHHHH. That was 10 minutes lost and me 10 minutes hangrier.

WHATDOIDONOW?

The only thing there is to do. Boil eggs and fry bacon.

Find some lemon and make a dressing.

Lemon Dijon Dressing - oso goodddd
Lemon Dijon Dressing – oso goodddd

Chop up all the vegetables I have.

Pre-dressed salad
Pre-dressed salad

Oh wait. This is yum.

Dammit. I was ready to be irritated allnightlong.

Serves 1 hungry girl

Protein
2 free-range eggs
3 strips of streaky bacon

Dressing
2 Tbsps olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
dash of salt
sprinkle of pepper

Salad
½ cup cooked quinoa
handful of mixed salad leaves
1 Japanese cucumber, chopped
1/2 yellow pepper, diced
9 baby tomatoes, halved

Protein
Preheat water in electric kettle or stove for eggs.

Once boiled pour over eggs and boil on stove with lid on for one minute.

Remove from fire and let sit for 10 ten minutes. Pour out hot water and submerge eggs in tap water.

Fry the bacon until brown and crispy in a saucepan over medium heat.

Remove from fire place the bacon on paper towels to get rid of excess oil/fat. Crumble once cool.

Dressing

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl.

Salad

Put the salad ingredients and protein in a bowl.

Toss evenly with the dressing.

Eat. And congratulate yourself for being resourceful.