There are a huge amount of Brazilians living in Ireland these days. The 2016 Census revealed that after English and Polish (?!), Portuguese was the most widely spoken language in Ireland, relegating Irish to 4th place. To be honest I was surprised Irish made 4th place, you are certainly more likely to hear Russian or Spanish on the streets of Dublin than an cúpla focal as Gaeilge.
Given the legions of Brazilians living here, it was inevitable their food would find its way into native homes. Though I never actually ate in the place, there was a particularly successful Brazilian restaurant that started making a range of ready meals which were showing up in convenience stores, so I picked up a couple of these and some of them were very good (for a ready meal). I investigated (read Googled) Brazilian cuisine and found this strange sounding, sort of salad thing. Looking at the list of ingredients you may think that it is bonkers, but these are a people that think nothing of strolling down to the shops in shorts and flip flops, in February, so why be surprised?
Salpicão has since become a firm favourite of mine. Easy enough to prepare, delicious, and sort of healthy. As healthy as I get at least. Though there seems to be a lot of ingredients there is nothing difficult about this at all. Just by opening a few cans and grating a bit of this, slicing a bit of that and adding a shake of the other, you end up with a wonderful plateful of Brazilian sunshine. Well worth the effort.
This amount feeds me for two days. The apple doesn’t discolour as it’s protected by a smothering of mayo.
- 1 chicken breast poached, cooled and shredded
- 160 g can of sweet corn drained
- 160 g can of peas drained
- 2 medium carrots grated
- A large shallot or half a red onion finely sliced and diced
- 1 green apple diced (optional)
- 1 red pepper deseeded and diced (optional)
- 100 g pitted green olives sliced or diced (optional)
- A good handful of raisins or sultanas (optional)
- Some shredded ham (optional)
- 3 tbsp mayonnaise more or less to suit your own taste
- Some parsley or chives or sliced spring onions or suchlike to garnish
- A couple of potatoes cut into matchstick pieces or shoestring style
- Salt and pepper
- Oil for frying
Poach the chicken breast, just simmer it in a pan of water for 10 or 15 minutes. Try to do this in advance to give it time to cool down. When it’s cool enough to handle, just pull it apart with your hands into shreds, the size of which you find satisfactory.
The biggest pain in the arse about this recipe is turning the potatoes into shoestring fries. It requires a little more patience than I possess but I still do it because the skinny fries are what makes this a salpicão, otherwise it’s just another chicken salad. So peel the potatoes and take your time slicing them up into very skinny chips. I suppose there exists some kind of gadget that might do this tedious chore for you, but I have yet to discover it. Anyway, get that done and soak the chips in cold water to help remove some of their starch. Rinse them off and dry them with some kitchen paper or a clean kitchen towel.
Get yourself a large bowl and add the shredded chicken and all the other ingredients; sweet corn, peas, onion, grated carrot, diced apple, red pepper, olives, raisins and ham.
This recipe is, of course, adaptable, so you can omit anything you don’t like and add anything you do, one recipe suggests mango, which I have yet to try but it sounds intriguing. I rarely use ham to be honest, but I had some I needed to use up, so in it went. Mix it up well and add the mayonnaise and season with salt and pepper to your own taste. You could use sour cream instead of (or mixed with) mayo, or low fat yogurt if you are concerned about calories.
That’s that bit done.
Heat around 3 cm of oil in a deep pan to 190°C, or until one of your chips immediately sizzles and rises to the top when you drop it in. Be very careful when deep frying in hot oil. Never fill more than a third of the pan with oil and never leave it unattended. You might have a purpose made fryer thing but I rarely deep fry so don’t bother keeping one.
When the oil is hot enough, fry the chips until they are crispy and golden brown, fry in batches if you have to, rather than overcrowding the pan and risking the temperature of the oil dropping and ending up with soggy chips. Definitely not what we want!
Remove the chips from the oil with a slotted spoon and dry them off off on kitchen paper.
Plonk the chicken salad on a plate and garnish with chopped parsley or chives if you wish and top off with a nice layer of the golden crispy fries. You now have Salpicão. Just delicious!