British Columbia Recipes: Chef David Hawkworth’s Spicy Chicken and Green Papaya Salad


For a change of pace when it comes to salads, here’s one inspired by Southeast Asian cuisine.

It is courtesy of none other than celebrity Vancouver chef David Hawksworth, of Hawksworth The Cookbook.

“It’s a healthy salad with a lot of texture and flavor,” says Hawksworth. “When we put it on the menu at Bel Café, it was so popular that the cooks couldn’t keep up with the knife work, so they started spiraling carrots and daikon instead. “

Yield: serves 6

Note: Chicken thighs will develop much more flavor if marinated the night before and up to 24 hours before cooking.


30 ml (2 tbsp.) Canola oil
20 g (1 tbsp.) Minced ginger
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1⁄2 lemongrass stalk, thinly sliced
10 g (2 tsp) palm sugar
70 ml (5 tbsp.) Soy sauce
1/2 cup (125 ml) hoisin
50 ml (3 tbsp.) Sesame oil
30 ml (2 tbsp.) Sriracha-style chili sauce
20 g (1 tbsp) tamarind paste
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

50 g (1⁄4 cup) palm sugar
2 lime leaves
1⁄2 fresh jalapeno or Thai red pepper, seeded
15 ml (1 tbsp.) Fish sauce
250 ml (1 cup) lime juice
1 shallot, finely chopped

Spicy papaya salad
200 g (7 oz.) Noodle vermicelli
1 carrot, peeled
1⁄2 small daikon radish
1⁄4 green papaya, peeled, seeded and cut into julienne
100 g (1 cup) bean sprouts
1/2 bunch of cilantro, stems removed
75 g (1⁄2 cup) toasted cashews, crushed
1⁄2 red jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced


Heat the canola oil in a sauté pan over medium heat, then add the ginger, garlic and lemongrass and cook for about 3 minutes.
Add the palm sugar and soy sauce and continue cooking until the sugar has dissolved.
Transfer to a blender and add the sesame oil, chili sauce and tamarind paste.
Blend on high power until smooth, then strain through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl.
Toss the chicken thighs in the marinade then refrigerate overnight (and up to 24 hours).
Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F).
Remove the chicken from the marinade and scrape off the excess.
Using a grill pan or barbecue over high heat, char the chicken to create grill marks on both sides.
Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 7 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool before cutting into 1 centimeter (3⁄8 inch) strips.

Bring the palm sugar, lime leaves, chili and 60 ml (1⁄4 cup) of water to a boil to dissolve the sugar.
Transfer to a blender and mix for 1 minute until well blended, then pass through a fine mesh sieve.
Add the fish sauce, lime juice and shallot, and season with salt.
Refrigerate to cool.

Place the noodles in a large heatproof bowl and sprinkle with salt.
Pour boiling water over them to cover them completely and let sit according to package directions, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Drain, rinse with cold water, then drain again. This stops the cooking process and prevents the noodles from sticking together.
Cut the carrot and daikon radish into thin julienne strips or create ribbons using a spiralizer.
Toss with the green papaya, bean sprouts and noodles, and toss gently with a little dressing.
Divide among 6 bowls and top with chicken slices.
Garnish with cilantro, cashews and jalapeño slices.



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