Thai turkey or chicken salad with puffed wild rice

21 day

Almost as much time is devoted to dealing with leftover turkey as is spent talking about how to cook the blummin’ thing in the first place. To be honest, I love a good sandwich (toasted sourdough, Dijon, stuffing, crispy bacon, Maldon and cranberry sauce please). But what I often crave amidst the party food of turkey season is something bright and fresh to wake my taste buds and flatten my tummy, for one meal at least.

This fresh and crunchy salad is a cinch to put together, and really ticks all the boxes for texture and flavour. The chicken or turkey crackling is the latest thing on menus and rightly so. Try not to be squeamish, think of it as an alternative to crispy bacon and start using it for a savory crunch on top of all sorts of things. I had leftover puffed rice and chicken skin crackling one day and used it to top sliced avocado. I threw on a sprinkle of Maldon salt and a squeeze of lemon and it was just gorgeous.

chicken crackling avo and rice

Don’t restrict yourself to making this when you have leftover turkey, use it throughout the year with leftover roast chicken – even rotisserie chicken is fine. Sometimes I add some cooked and cooled brown rice, steamed asparagus or broccoli to bulk this up a little.

You can cheat and speed up this recipe by replacing the puffed rice with toasted sliced almonds or crumbled rice crackers and just using chopped rotisserie chicken instead of crisping the skin. You could also just add raw carrot slices instead of the pickle and add a little more acid to your dressing.

Ingredients (serves 2)

1 large cucumber or 2 courgettes (zucchini)

a large bundle of basil – if you can get Thai basil then you’re laughing!

3-4 carrots

A couple of handfuls (can you see the level of precision I’m going for here?) of leftover rotisserie or roasted chicken or turkey meat and skin

3 heaped tablespoons wild rice

around 200ml (around 1 cup) rapeseed oil (canola in the US)

1 sliced avocado

Optional – a cup of cooked brown rice, asparagus or tender stem broccoli,

Pickling liquid:

240ml (1 cup) water

120ml (half a cup) white or apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon each of sea salt and black pepper


2 limes, juiced and zested (around 2 tablespoons) juice

1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce

1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce

To make

  1. Preheat your oven to 190c (375F).
  2. Set a small pan with the pickling liquid ingredients in, and a lid on, over a high heat.
  3. Slice the carrots as thinly as you can. I use my box grater slicer to get thin coins. Then put them in a small glass or ceramic bowl or jar. When the picking liquid starts bubbling, take it off the heat and pour it over the carrots. Cover the bowl and set aside for 30 minutes.
  4. When the roast or rotisserie chicken is cool enough to handle, peel off the skin, keeping it in as much of a single piece as possible. Lay the pieces of skin fleshy side up on an unlined metal baking sheet and sprinkle with Maldon salt and chilli flakes. Put it in the oven for 10-15 minutes then remove using a sturdy spatula, it may break up a little, that’s fine. Remove to cool on a wire rack and it will crisp right up.
  5. Chop the cucumber into elongated slices and put them in a large shallow salad bowl along with the shredded or chopped chicken or turkey meat (and cooked brown rice if using).
  6. Roughly tear the basil leaves into big pieces then add those to the salad bowl too – we’re using them as a salad leaf so they can be in bigger pieces.
  7. To make the popped rice – put the oil into a small saucepan and heat it until it is quivering. If you have a candy thermometer you are looking for around 200c (400F) – but I never use one, I just drop a piece of wild rice in when the oil starts quivering. If it floats to the top within 15 seconds and starts to puff you are good to go. Then add a tablespoon of rice at a time and use a strainer or slotted spoon to quickly skim it off the top as soon as it puffs. Then put the puffed rice on a paper towel and continue until you have used all your rice. Sprinkle the popped rice with salt. Be careful when you are using hot oil, and don’t leave the hot oil unattended please.
  8. Juice and zest the lime into a jam jar along with the rest of the dressing ingredients and shake. Taste and adjust the acid, salt and sweetness to suit you (remember the pickled carrots will add acidity to the final dish too).

YSTcooking_01959. To assemble the salad. Put the pickled carrots (without their pickling liquid) into the salad bowl with the basil, sliced avocado and chicken. Drizzle with half of the dressing and toss. Taste and adjust the dressing amount or add an extra a squeeze of lime or splash of chilli sauce or fish sauce. Then scatter the popped rice and chicken skin on top and serve immediately.


You can now buy the equipment I use in this recipe through my shop. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools.

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