Recipe: Nigel Slater’s Five-Spice Chicken & Pea Shoot Salad

published Jun 10, 2015
Nigel Slater's Five-Spice Chicken & Pea Shoot Salad
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(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

Lettuce is so much more than salad, you know. This week we’re bringing you five very different recipes that show off lettuce in different ways, and today’s may just be my favorite: Nigel Slater’s cross between a salad and a stir-fry, with chicken cooked in a flash with ginger and garlic, and folded together with barely-wilted lettuce and pea shoots.

It’s a super fast meal bursting with garlicky, spicy flavor, and packed with greens.

(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

On the chicken, Slater notes, “Sometimes you can find raw diced chicken at the butcher’s or supermarket, but if not, then a mixture of thigh and breast, coarsely diced, is fine too.”

Pea shoots may seem obscure, but they are readily available at Asian groceries. If you can’t find the younger, smaller pea shoots, try substituting more mature pea tips. Both will give you that fresh, sweet pea flavor.

This is on my to-be-cooked list — it looks perfect for early summer.

Testing Notes

This is a delicious stir-fry with just a few simple ingredients that came together quickly and would be quite delicious with some rice or noodles.

For the young salad leaves, you can use anything — even mesclun. You can use white meat or dark meat chicken, either one will come out juicy and tasty here, and don’t forget the squeeze of lime at the end; it adds a nice bright flavor!

Christine, June 2015

Nigel Slater's Five-Spice Chicken & Pea Shoot Salad

Serves 2

Nutritional Info


For the salad:

  • 2 or 3

    large handfuls of pea shoots

  • Mixed bag young, small salad leaves

  • A few handfuls sprouted seeds or cress

For the chicken:

  • 1

    (2-inch) knob fresh ginger

  • 1

    small red chile

  • 2 teaspoons

    Chinese five-spice powder

  • 2

    cloves garlic

  • 2 tablespoons

    peanut oil

  • 14 ounces

    (400 grams) chicken, diced

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    superfine or palm sugar

  • Juice from 1 lime


  1. Prepare the salad: Wash the pea shoots and salad leaves and spin or shake them dry.

  2. Peel the ginger and grate it to a pulp, scraping every bit from the grater into a mixing bowl. Finely slice the chile, add it to the ginger, then stir in the five-spice powder. Peel and crush the garlic, then add it to the ginger. Pour in the oil and mix thoroughly. Add the chicken to the ginger mixture and toss the ingredients together.

  3. Get a wok or frying pan really hot. Add the diced chicken and its dressing to the pan and let it cook over a high heat for 6 or 7 minutes, stirring from time to time, until it is cooked through. (A lid will help the chicken to cook right through.) Add the sugar, stir-fry for a further minute, then add the lime juice and salt generously.

  4. Add the pea shoots and salad leaves to the wok, toss for a few seconds till they have started to wilt and darken, then tip everything into bowls. Scatter with the sprouted seeds or cress and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Reprinted with permission from Notes from the Larder by Nigel Slater, copyright © 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.

→ Check out Nigel’s book! Notes from the Larder by Nigel Slater