Belinda Jeffery

Five Spice Chicken Salad With Grilled Peppers And Shitakes

I know how daunting a lengthy-looking list of ingredients can be, so I feel that the first thing I must say about this dish is that despite having that very thing, it’s actually easy to make. I tend to break it into stages – I marinate the chicken, grill the capsicums, and make the dressing a day ahead, so that only leaves preparing the veggies and cooking the chicken on the day.

  • Serves 4.


  • 6 large chicken breast fillets (or 8 large thigh fillets)
  • 1 tablespoon light olive oil
  • 100g roasted cashews, to garnish
  • Marinade:

  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) medium-dry sherry
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) freshly squeezed orange juice, strained
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons five spice powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons clear honey
  • 1 long wide strip of orange zest
  • 4 cardamom pods, crushed
  • The Vegetables:

  • 2 large red capsicums (peppers)
  • 400g sugar snap or snowpeas, trimmed
  • 2-3 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 12-16 shitake mushrooms, stalks removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 witlof (Belgian endive), broken into leaves
  • Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup (125ml) olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) freshly squeezed orange juice, strained
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Sea salt to taste

First off, make the chicken marinade. Put all the marinade ingredients into a large bowl and give them a really thorough whisk. Sit the chicken pieces into a container that has been lined with a plastic bag then pour the marinade over them. Knot the bag tightly, then seal the container and pop it in the fridge for at least 5 hours, or overnight. From time to time, give the bag a good squish.

Slice the capsicums down their natural contour lines into large pieces. Remove the cores, seeds and white ribs then sit the pieces, shiny-side up, on a grill or baking tray. Slide them under a hot grill until the skins blister and blacken, then take them out and cover them with a thick tea towel. As soon as they’re cool enough to handle, peel away and discard the skins, and slice the flesh into 1 cm wide strips. (You can do these up to a week ahead of time and store them, covered with olive oil and a splash of vinegar, in the fridge; just return them to room temperature before using.)

Bring a medium-sized saucepan of water to the boil over high heat. Trim the stalks of the sugar snaps or snow peas, stringing them as you go. Once the water is boiling, salt it lightly then add the peas, and cook them until they’re bright green and tender, but still a little crisp. Tip them into a colander as soon as they’re ready and run them under cool water to stop them cooking. Finally, dunk them in a bowl of ice and water to set the colour so they stay a beautiful, vivid green. Now, wrap the peas in a clean tea towel to dry them off a bit.

Preheat your oven to 180C.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels – hang onto the marinade though, as you will need some later. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large ovenproof frying pan over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook them for 1 minute each side to seal them, then transfer the pan to the oven. Roast the chicken for about 20 minutes, until it’s just cooked, then carefully remove the pan from the oven (be very mindful of the handle which will be red-hot) and set it aside to cool a little.

While the chicken is cooking, sauté the mushrooms. Heat the oil in a medium-sized frying pan over high heat. Add the garlic and swish it around then add the mushrooms. Cook them, tossing regularly, for 3 minutes or so, until they’re cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Bring 1/2 cup (125ml) of the reserved marinade to the boil. Let it bubble gently for a few minutes then take it off the heat. Whisk 2-3 tablespoons of it into the dressing. Taste it and add a little more if you think it needs it.

To serve the salad, layer the chicken slices and most of the capsicum strips, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, and witlof leaves in individual bowls or plates, drizzling a bit of dressing here and there as you go. Sprinkle the reserved veggies and cashews over the top. Serve any remaining dressing separately.