Saturday 25 November 2017

Fresh & tasty by Donal Skehan

Tequila chicken from Fresh by Donal Skehan
Tequila chicken from Fresh by Donal Skehan
Yakatori salmon skewers
Falafel balls from Donal Skehan's Fresh

Donal Skehan

I'm a bit of a lightweight when it comes to booze, as my friends like to remind me on a constant basis. Rather than down a shot of tequila, I'd sooner use it in cooking, as in this recipe, where the tequila lends a peppery sharpness to the lime - and also to the mint-infused chicken marinade, which will give you extra tender meat. Paired with a sweet and savoury mango quinoa salad, it may almost make you forget your late-night misadventures… well, almost.

Tequila Chicken Quinoa Mango Salad

Serves 4

For the chicken:

4 skinless chicken breasts (about 150g each)

1 garlic clove

1 green chilli

6 tbsp tequila

Zest and juice of 2 limes

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tbsp olive oil

Small handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped

Generous pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Olive oil, for brushing

For the mango salad:

1 tsp caster sugar

Juice of 1 lime

3 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)

200g cooked quinoa

150g beansprouts

5 spring onions, thinly sliced

1 ripe mango, peeled, stoned and sliced lengthways

2 Little Gem lettuces, roughly shredded

Handful of peanuts, toasted and chopped

Handful of fresh mint, chopped

Handful of fresh coriander, chopped


Place all the ingredients for the chicken into a resealable bag and shake to combine. Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least two hours, ideally overnight, turning once or twice if you remember.

Whisk together the caster sugar, lime juice and fish sauce in a large bowl until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the quinoa, beansprouts, spring onions, mango and the torn lettuce and toss to combine.

Place a large griddle pan over a medium-high heat and brush lightly with oil. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade and fry for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until cooked all the way through. Remove from the heat and slice each breast into chunks.

Divide the mango quinoa salad between four plates and sprinkle each one with some chopped peanuts, mint and coriander. Top with the chicken slices and serve immediately.

Yakitori Salmon Skewers with Red Rice Salad

The Japanese dish yakitori generally refers to skewers of chicken, grilled over charcoal to give a unique smoky taste. They are often enjoyed as a street-food snack with a cold beer. Here, I have given them a small makeover using salmon and serving them with a vibrant red rice salad. If you can't get your hands on red rice, use brown rice instead.

Serves 4


2 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp sake

1 tbsp mirin

1 tsp dark brown sugar

500g skinless salmon fillet, cut in 3cm cubes

6 shiitake mushrooms, stem removed and cut into 1cm slices

5 spring onions, cut in 3cm pieces

1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

For the warm red rice salad:

250g red rice

1 tbsp miso paste

1 tbsp mirin

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp clear honey

200g kale leaves, torn from stem and roughly chopped

2 carrots, shaved into ribbons

½ cucumber, shaved into ribbons

2 nori sheets, sliced into strips


In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sake, mirin and brown sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Add the salmon pieces and toss to combine. Cover and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Thread the salmon cubes, shiitake mushrooms and spring onions onto wooden or bamboo skewers (you should get about two skewers per person). Cover and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes, or until you are ready to cook.

For the red rice salad, cook the rice until tender according to the packet instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water.

In a large bowl, whisk together the miso paste, mirin, rice vinegar and honey. Add the kale and massage until tender. Add the carrot and cucumber ribbons, cooked rice and nori strips.

When you're ready to cook the skewers, place a griddle pan over a high heat and cook each skewer for about 2-3 minutes each side. Brush with any remaining marinade as they cook.

Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the skewers and serve with bowls of the red rice salad.

Cajun Chicken with Sweet Potato Smash

This dish is really simple but makes a delicious supper - the sweet and exotic flavour of sweet potato and fresh coriander take it to another level. I've used chicken breasts but chicken thighs are an excellent alternative.

Serves 2


200g tenderstem broccoli

2 skinless chicken breasts (about 150g each)

1 tsp rapeseed oil

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

3 thyme sprigs, leaves picked

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sweet potato smash:

2-4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 tbsp coconut oil

Large handful of coriander, roughly chopped


Start preparing the sweet potato smash. Place the sweet potato in a metal steamer in a pan of simmering water and steam for 10 -12 minutes or until just tender. You can add the broccoli for the last five minutes of cooking time. Remove the broccoli and keep warm.

Transfer the sweet potato to a mixing bowl and use a fork to roughly smash the sweet potato together with the coconut oil and coriander. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

Butterfly the chicken: place a chicken breast on a chopping board and, with your hand flat on the top of it, use a sharp knife to slice into the thickest part of the breast. Do not slice all the way through. Open out the chicken so it resembles a butterfly and repeat with the other chicken breast.

Lay the butterflied chicken on a plate and rub with rapeseed oil. Sprinkle all over with paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, thyme leaves and season with salt and black pepper.

Place a large griddle pan over a high heat and cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until cooked all the way through. Serve the chicken with the sweet potato mash and tenderstem broccoli.

Mini Falafel Box

This has to be the perfect transportable feast. If you're making this the night before there is no need to refrigerate the falafels - just leave them covered at room temperature. The spiced yoghurt is great to have with almost anything.

Serves 4

For the falafels:

½ small red onion, chopped

Small handful each of fresh mint and coriander leaves

1 tbsp tahini

Zest and juice of ½ lemon

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Olive oil, for frying

Cooked bulgur wheat, to serve

For the shredded salad:

½ small head of red cabbage, shredded

2 carrots, thinly sliced

½ small red onion, very thinly sliced

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon

1 tsp honey

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the spiced yoghurt:

1 tsp each of ground coriander and cumin

½ tsp each of ground turmeric and mustard seeds

½ tsp chilli powder

250g natural yoghurt

1 mild red chilli, thinly sliced

3 spring onions, thinly sliced

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


To make the falafel, place the red onion, mint, coriander, tahini, lemon zest and juice, cumin, cayenne and paprika in a food processor with a good pinch of salt. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the chickpeas and pulse again briefly until the chickpeas are chopped fine - you are not looking for a smooth paste but something with a bit more texture.

With dampened hands, shape into 20 small balls and chill in the fridge for up to an hour (if time allows). Heat a thin film of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and fry the falafel balls for 4-6 minutes, until golden brown all over, turning occasionally with tongs. Drain on kitchen paper.

To prepare the shredded salad, place all the vegetables in a bowl. Make a quick dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey and a little salt and pepper (or shake in a jar with a tight-fitting lid) and then use to dress the salad, tossing until evenly coated.

To make the spiced yoghurt, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Arrange the falafel on the bulgur wheat with a small bowl of the spiced yoghurt. Serve the shredded salad alongside.

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