This Chin Chin staple started as a simple discussion between chef Benjamin Cooper and restaurateur Chris Lucas: the latter wanted a light salad on the menu. Copper jumped into the kitchen and began experimenting with the ingredients he had on hand. Inspired by summer, the chicken coleslaw with burnt chilli mayo was born.
"It just came together. It is light and summery but still has a bit of balls to it because of the smoky, fieriness of the mayo," says Cooper. "And everyone loves mayonnaise. I certainly do." The burnt chilli mayo makes all the difference - the smoky peppers are pan fried until blackened, the egg and vinegar curb the heat and the tamarind and adjard syrup (sugar and rice vinegar) round it all out.
Cooper eats the salad three times a week, whether as a healthy lunch option, a pick me up in the afternoon, a protein-packed meal after the gym or a light dinner. He describes the salad as a vehicle for other ingredients, encouraging experimentation. "You could easily throw in some pickled red cabbage or toasted cashews and it works really well with roast meats, like beautiful pork belly or even a poached egg," he says.
500g green prawns, peeled
1x 1kg whole roast chicken, skin removed and meat shredded
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced
2 red shallots, finely sliced
1/2 bunch of chive flowers, cut into 2.5cm lengths
1/4 savoy cabbage, finely shredded
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
2 celery stalks, finely sliced
100g snow pea tendrils, cut into 2.5cm lengths
1 bunch of Vietnamese mint, leaves picked
1 bunch of coriander, leaves picked
1 long red chilli, finely sliced
1 Lebanese cucumber, deseeded and cut into half moons
200ml lime juice
100ml fish sauce
2–3 teaspoons caster sugar
2 limes, peeled and segmented
4 green birds eye chillies, finely sliced
2 red birds eye chillies, finely sliced
Burnt chilli mayonnaise
3 dried long red chillies
100g Kewpie mayonnaise, plus extra for dressing
50ml adjard syrup (equal parts sugar and rice vinegar, brought to the boil and simmered for 5 minutes)
2 tablespoons tamarind water
For the Nuoc nam, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl – it should be tart and savoury, adjust the balance if necessary.
Add 100ml of the Nouc nam to a medium saucepan with 500ml of water and bring up to a simmer. Add the prawns and poach until just cooked. Drain and set aside.
For the burnt chilli mayonnaise, toast the chillies in a dry frying pan until blackened. Crush coarsely using a mortar and pestle, combine with the remaining ingredients and season with salt to taste.
To make the dressing, combine 150ml of the Nuoc nam with 3 tablespoons of the burnt chilli mayonnaise, or to taste.
Combine the prawns with the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and pour over the dressing to taste. Mix with your hands until well combined. Arrange on a large platter and serve. This salad is perfect with cold beer and roti bread.
Leftover burnt chilli mayonnaise will keep for 10–12 days refrigerated in an airtight container and is great with chicken wings, roast chicken, steak sandwiches, hamburgers and grilled prawns.
This is an extract from The Broadsheet Melbourne Cookbook, which contains 80 recipes from the city’s best restaurants, cafes and bars.