I know it’s so simple to buy the chicken already minced up, but the problem with that stuff is you don’t know what you’re getting and it often has loads of fat and a bit of gristle in it, so it’s always best to buy your own chicken and then mince it up yourself. I first had these in Thailand from a market stall, rammed full of chillies and a perfect balance of sweet, salty, sour and heat. I have tried to recreate that Asian flavour here. I hope you enjoy it!
2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 225g each)
1 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tbsp fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp caster, granulated or soft light brown sugar
3 spring onions, finely chopped ¼ cucumber, finely diced
1–2 red chillies, deseeded for less heat if preferred, finely sliced
1cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
Leaves and stalks from ½ bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped (about 2 tbsp)
Leaves from ½ bunch of fresh mint, ripped
Handful of salted (but not dry roasted) peanuts (about 50g)
12 largish crisp iceberg lettuce leaves (cup shaped are best)
Flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the chicken into large chunks and then blend in a food processor for around 10 seconds until chopped up quite small. Alternatively, very finely chop the chicken by hand. Drizzle the oil into a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the minced chicken with salt and pepper and cook for 4–5 minutes, stirring regularly and breaking it up as you do so, until it turns from pink to white.
Cut a piece open to check it is cooked and then tip the chicken into a colander set over a bowl. Leave to cool for 5 minutes so it won’t cause the herbs to wilt, while also allowing any excess excess liquid to drain off, if necessary. Pour the fish sauce and lime juice into a large bowl and stir in the sugar until dissolved.
Add the spring onion, cucumber, chilli, ginger, coriander, all but a small handful of the mint leaves and the peanuts and stir together well. Tip the chicken in and toss it through. Taste it and check to see if it needs a little bit more of anything to get it just to your liking. Arrange three lettuce leaves on each of four serving plates and place a couple of spoonfuls of the mixture into each one.
Scatter the remaining mint leaves over to garnish and serve. The best way to eat these is to simply pick up a lettuce cup with your hands and tuck in.