Scallops with Lap Cheong and Black Rice

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‘The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page’ – St Augustine. I’m not really one for quotes but I thought this one was pretty nice, I found it in a Lonely Planet photo Journal I was reading the other day, getting very excited…

It’s only three sleeps now until our trip overseas starts. I’m starting to feel a tiny bit anxious with excitement and anticipation for what’s to come. It’s been a year and a half since my last trip overseas. Oh, except NZ, but that doesn’t really count…

We haven’t made too many concrete plans, leaving our options as open as we possibly can, incase of meeting cool people, and hearing about cool places, etc. I hate the fact that you even have to book flights out of each country that you fly into, just to prove that you are leaving, I mean, I understand it, but it still really annoys me. Customs always freaks me out, even though I know I’m doing absolutely nothing wrong, they certainly have a way of making you feel nervous. After a couple of friends of friends were recently refused entry into Aus due to lack of funds, it makes me even more nervous. But, I’m sure we will be fine, and all of those things just add to the pleasure once you make it to the breathtaking places; where you find yourself, atop a volcano, in front of an ancient temple or amidst a tropical rainforest and you ask yourself, in awe, what am I even doing here? We are so lucky to have the freedom to travel.

I’ve been wanting to make this dish since way back in November when I started working in the fish market. I had never come across scallops in their shells before, and although they were ridiculously expensive, I had to try them, if not just for the taste but for their beautiful shells as well. So, I thought I’d better give them a go before we left Darwin, who knows when we will be back!

Like I said in my last post, the discovery of Lap Cheong (chinese sausage) since we’ve been up here has been a very very good one. We don’t eat much meat but the asian grocers here are amazing and the local, tropical produce, mostly lends itself to asian cuisine, so I’ve learnt to use it for lots of dishes. The flavour is out of this world and you don’t need much, so a packet goes a long way.

This is a great entree dish, or you could even serve it without the rice, as a canapé. Alternatively, bulk out the rice with some more veggies, like a fried rice, and serve the scallops on top. Delish!


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Serves 4 as an entree


2 tbs peanut oil

100g Lap Cheong (chinese sausage), finely sliced

12 scallops on the half shell, without the roe, removed from the shell, shells set aside for serving

3 cloves garlic, finely sliced

20g butter

2 tbs oyster sauce

200g black rice, cooked to packet directions

2 spring onions

1 long red chilli, finely sliced

2cm fresh ginger, peeled and julienned

4 garlic chives, finley sliced

1/4 cup coriander leaves

lemon wedges, to serve

Cracked black pepper


Prepare a medium bowl with water and ice. Cut the spring onions into 4 cm lengths and then finely slice them lengthways. Place them in the ice water and leave for 30mins, this will help them to curl. Drain. (note, this is purely for aesthetics and doesn’t affect the flavour).

Spread the cooked rice onto a serving platter, or onto 4 serving plates. Arrange the half shells on top of the rice, ready for the scallops. Keep warm. (again, this is just for presentation, you don’t need the shells).

Heat 1 tbs of the peanut oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the lap chuong and fry, stirring, for 2mins, add the garlic and continue to cook for a further 1min. Remove from the pan and evenly distribute between the shells.

Add the remaining 1 tbs of peanut oil and the butter, once butter is melted, add the scallops and cook for 1 to 2mins, turn and cook for a further 30secs. Drizzle with the oyster sauce. Place on top of the lap chuong.

Top the scallops with the spring onions, chilli, ginger, garlic chives, coriander, and some cracked black pepper. Serve with lemon wedges.








Tamarind and Lime Pickled Leader Prawns with Green Papaya and Rambutan Salad




Talk about being pushed out of my comfort zone, this week I spoke on live to air radio about cooking, my blog, local produce, and how I work with it in each place I visit. It all happened within a couple of hours. A phone call from the station, asking me whether I’d like to do it and a few questions about myself and what I’ve been doing, then, to answering a phone call at 3.20pm and waiting for the music to finish and the presenter to introduce me. He was relaxed and friendly, and once my nerves calmed down, it was really fun and an awesome experience. What a funny day that was.
Anyway, the whole reason for the segment was to advertise a competition run by the ABC to find regional recipes from around Australia to include in a Cookbook celebrating Australian cuisine and local produce.
So here is my entry! The tropical produce up here in darwin is so beautiful, I can’t get enough! I’ve used the local Leader prawns from the trawlers down at Francis Bay, green papaya from my friends garden, and the rambutans, onion, ginger, chillies, mint and limes from the Rapid Creek Market. With the rest of the ingredients form the local Asian Grocer, I didn’t even need to visit a large supermarket. Which makes me very happy!
I’ve been wanting to try these local Leader prawns since I first saw them, they are so massive, three of them was more than enough for me. However, they are really delicious, with a beautiful texture, made even more special by pickling them in this delicious marinade. You could use any prawns in this recipe through, and it would also work with fish or squid, just omit the blanching part of the process.
This is my third green papaya salad recipe for the blog, obviously, it’s just too delicious. Along with the sweet rambutans, the crunchy coconut, the tangy prawns and the big beautiful edible rice bowl. This is such an exciting meal, that’s impressive whilst still being really simple and easy. I hope you give it a try!






Serves 2


500g raw Leader prawns, or other large prawns such as King or Tiger
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
Juice of 3 limes
3cm piece ginger, chopped into tiny matchsticks
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp palm sugar
1 tsp tamarind puree
1 tsp fish sauce
salt and pepper
1 small papaya, julienned or grated
6 rambutans, peeled, quartered and de-seeded
1 small spanish onion, very finely sliced
1/2 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup toasted coconut chips
2 rice cakes with sesame seeds


Peel and de-vien the prawns, leaving the tails on for presentation if desired.
Combine the chilli, lime juice, ginger, sesame oil, sugar, tamarind, fish sauce and salt and pepper in a shallow, non-reactive dish.
Bring a pot of water to the boil. Drop in the prawns and cook for 30secs, no longer. Strain and place in the dish with the marinade. Stir to combine and arrange so that all the prawns are submerged in the marinade. Cover and place in the fridge for 6 hours.
When ready to serve, toss together the papaya, rambutans, onion, and mint.
Cook the rice cakes, one at a time, in the microwave, on high for 1min.
To serve, divide the salad between the rice cakes. Top with the prawns, some of the marinade (this acts as the dressing), and sprinkle with the coconut chips.


Tofu Satay with Lemongrass, Coconut and Tahini Sauce (Vegan, Gluten Free)

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I love food on sticks! Especially the beautiful smoky satay sold hot off the grill at the markets here on the weekend, the grill plates are thick with black build up from many years of cooking these delicious morsels, I’m sure it adds to the flavour. Here, they also serve them with Surabi; delectable little steamed rice cakes served with a sweet coconut sauce, I can’t wait to go and get more this weekend and I’d also like to find a recipe for them, though it is proving hard on the internet.

Satay is often associated with peanut sauce, but the word ‘satay’ is actually more in referral to the meat on a stick part. Turmeric is a main ingredient always used on the meat to give it the distinctive yellow colour. Then, depending on where you buy it and what kind of meat is used, governs the type of sauce that is served with it. Chilli sauces, soy based, and kecap manis are all used, while peanut is definitely the most common…AND DEFINITELY MY FAVOURITE. (haha, I didn’t even mean to write that in capitals but I’m going to leave it).

I wanted to create something just as moorish as this street side snack food but with my own healthy twist. The tofu soaks in the marinade beautifully, making it really dark and salty, while the coconut sauce adds a fresh and creamy element, with a tinge of nutty flavour from the tahini. You could replace the tofu with any meat you like, if that’s what you prefer. And serve it with any sides you like, we had some steamed asian greens and a bean sprout and herb salad. Serve rice as well for a more substantial feast.




Serves 4


375g pack firm tofu

1/2 cup dark soy (regular soy will also work, or replace it with tamari for gluten free)

Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and grated

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp turmeric

About 12 metal or bamboo skewers (if using bamboo, soak them in water for at least an hour)

peanut oil, to cook

Steamed asian greens, coriander, mint, thai basil, shallots, chilli, lime wedges and bean sprouts, to serve

Lemongrass, Coconut and Tahini Sauce

1/2 cup coconut cream

1 tsp red curry paste (or any curry paste you have on hand)

1/4 cup tahini paste

2 lemongrass stalks, white and pale green part finely chopped

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tbs lime juice

1/4 cup roasted cashews

1/4 tsp salt

pinch of pepper


Slice the tofu in half horizontally and then cut into about 12 long, cube shaped pieces.

Combine the soy, ginger, garlic and turmeric in a dish large enough to accommodate all of the tofu in a single layer. Lay the tofu in the marinade, turning to coat, and leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight is fine.

Meanwhile, for the sauce, use a small food processor or stick blender to combine all of the ingredients, blending until smooth. Leave in the fridge for at least an hour for flavours to develop and sauce to thicken.

Carefully push a bamboo or metal skewer up the centre of each piece of tofu, ensuring it stays straight so that it doesn’t come out the side and cause the tofu to split.

Heat the peanut oil on a griddle pan, frying pan or barbecue plate to medium/high. Cook the tofu sticks, about 5 mins or so per side, until dark and slightly charred.

Serve with the sauce and choice of sides.


Kick up the Kaffir





One of the first cocktails I ever tried making at home was a ‘Yule Mule’, a Christmas spin on the classic Moscow Mule; a cocktail made of vodka, ginger ale or ginger beer and lime juice. I still love this cocktail so much and so decided to try and do my own spin on it. There is no shortage of limes, ginger and kaffir lime up here, some of my favourite flavours. It’s thanks to these fantastic aspects of Darwin that keep me sane while I’m sitting here at 10.30pm in thirty five degree heat, getting eaten by mosquitoes….

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the name…think about a mule or donkey and what they are famous for…kicking right? Then add the kick of the ginger and a little bit of alliteration…I think it’s pretty clever, if I do say so myself.

Happy New Year everybody! It’s going to be a cracker!




Ginger and Kaffir Lime Syrup


150g ginger, thinly sliced (no need to peel)

3 cups water

1 1/2 cups sugar

5 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced

juice of 1/2 lemon


In a medium saucepan, on medium heat, combine the water and the sugar, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer, on low/medium for about 45mins to an hour. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain.

Keep in the fridge in a sealed jar.

Kick up the Kaffir

Serves 1


30ml vodka

45ml ginger and kaffir lime syrup

1/2 lime juiced

slice of lime, to serve


soda water


Place the ice in a tall glass. Pour over the vodka, syrup and lime juice. Top with soda water and garnish with the slice of lime. Stir.



Mango and Ginger Chilli Sauce

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We’re back on the east coast at the moment and man is it good. There’s nothing like a few months in the outback to make you realise how lucky we are to have grown up here. Our first dip in the ocean after a late night flight from Darwin and a long drive from Brisbane was pure bliss. To me there is nothing like the cool, salty waves of the ocean here; a far cry from the warm, stagnant, croc infested waters of the outback.

So far we’ve had lots of festive family times, which means lots of eating and drinking. Lucky there is a nice long stretch of beach here to run along every morning.

I handed out a few jars of this Mango and Ginger Chilli Sauce as early Christmas presents; feeling quite chuffed with myself at my handmade gifts. Little did I know that this family is famous for their preserve making and it will no doubt, be highly critiqued. Well, at least I know we enjoyed the jar we kept for ourselves. I finished it within a couple of days with all the seafood I’ve been getting from my new job at the seafood market down at Fisherman’s Wharf in Darwin. It’s tart and quite hot if made to this recipe, but you can use as little or as much chilli as you want. It’s also slightly sweet but nothing like a sweet chilli sauce, which I find is usually so sweet that it overpowers any other flavours in a meal. I love this sauce with prawns, but it’s also great with other seafood and fish, or even chicken.

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1kg mango flesh, from about 6 fresh or you can use frozen

3 brown onion, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tbs grated ginger

3 limes, juiced

Juice of 1 lemon

6 small red chillies, chopped

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

4 tbs vinegar ( I used coconut vinegar, but you could use any)

About 1 cup water

Salt and Vinegar


Process all ingredients together in a food processor.

Put mixture in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over medium low heat, stirring often. Cover and cook, stirring every so often, but be careful as it will spit. Continue to cook for about half an hour adding the water as you go to get to a desired consistency (I used the whole cup)

Push mixture through a sieve and pour into sterilised jars (Thanks… . )

Sauce will keep for months if sterilised properly but keep in the fridge once opened.


Sweet Potato, Ginger and Kaffir Lime Loaf (Vegan, Gluten Free)

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Now that we have a house to live in, temporarily that is, we decided to clean out the car that we’ve been living in for the last two months. Including all the tinned food that we didn’t get through, I had one sweet potato left, a bit wrinkly on the outside but perfect for a good roasting. So, roast it I did, even though I didn’t have a plan for it yet. I love roasting sweet potatoes whole, in their skin, it’s a really nice way to make mash too, prevents watery mash, nobody likes watery mash.

At first I was thinking of making some sweet potato muffins, I got all excited about it, bought the ingredients I needed, only to discover that although we are living in a real house now, the kitchen is still a share house kitchen and is mainly full of random schooner glasses from different pubs around town. Definitely no muffin tin to be seen. Luckily, amongst the many baking trays (essential for frozen chips, one of my pommy housemates favourites) I found a loaf tin. Ok, I’ll make a loaf instead.

Due to the amazing asian markets in Darwin, I now get to have delicious things like ginger and kaffir lime leaves at my fingertips, whenever I like. So stoked. Stay tuned for some more asian inspired recipes to come over the next few weeks.

Considering this loaf is vegan and gluten free, I am really happy with how well it rose, whist still staying beautifully moist and spongey. When it was warm from the oven, it was delicious with some marmalade and fresh berries. If you don’t finish it all in the first day though, slice it up and keep it in the fridge, or the freezer, and toast it under the grill to serve. I’ve been enjoying it with some other toppings such as olive oil spread and strawberry jam, or ricotta and honey, or yoghurt and tahini. So delicious!


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1 medium sweet potato

1 cup coconut milk

1 tsp lemon juice

1/3 cup coconut oil

1 tbs chia bran

1/4 cup rice malt syrup

1 tbs fresh ginger grated

2 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups plain gluten free flour

1 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup coconut sugar, plus 2 tbs

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarb soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbs sesame seeds


Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Line a baking tray with baking paper and a loaf tin with oil and baking paper.

Using a fork or metal skewer, pierce the sweet potato all over. Place on lined oven tray and roast for about an hour or until very soft. Remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthways, scoop out the flesh into a bowl and mash with a fork.

In a small bowl, place the coconut milk and lemon juice, stir to combine and leave for about 5mins.

In a large bowl, combine the coconut oil, chia bran, rice malt syrup, fresh ginger, kaffir lime leaves and sweet potato (make sure the sweet potato is still a little warm to prevent the coconut oil from solidifying). Let sit for about 10 mins. Stir in the milk mixture.

In another bowl sift the flours, ground ginger, baking powder, bicarb soda and salt. Stir in the sugar. Add the wet mixture and stir well to combine, but don’t over mix.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin. Smooth the surface and sprinkle with the extra coconut sugar and the sesame seeds.

Bake for 45-60 mins or until springs back when pressed or a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for about 20 mins before removing.






Creamy Pea, Mint, Ginger and Coconut Soup with Kale Chips (Vegan)

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I can’t believe it’s this far into winter and I haven’t posted a recipe for a soup yet! It’s all I’ve been eating this week, along with lots of herbal teas and smoothies, trying to get rid of the killer flu from hell. It’s been so long since I’ve been sick that I totally forgot how horrible it is. It’s been three days now and considering how sick I was on the first day (think fevers so bad that you yell out ridiculous insanities at your loved ones in the middle of the night), I’m pretty impressed how much better I feel, just by consuming immune boosting foods. It makes me pretty proud of my body, and more inclined to keep being this healthy even once I’m over the flu.

Today has been the first day that I’ve had the energy to actually make my own soup, the others I ate were made by my beautiful friends. But my energy bursts are short lived so I wanted to make a simple soup that didn’t require too much chopping but still had enough flavour and texture for it to be interesting, plus the benefits of some immune boosting ingredients like ginger, garlic and mint. Even though there are few ingredients in this soup, the flavours are really interesting and I love how the consistency just perfectly coats your tongue so that you can really appreciate the flavours. Add the crunchy, earthy kale chips and the creamy coconut cream and you have a perfect bowl of goodness. I served it with some delicious Ancient Grain Rolls from my local health food store (got them for free cause they were one day out of date, BONUS!!), warmed in the oven, so delicious and nourishing.

You don’t have to be sick to make this soup, serve it up to your friends for a lazy lunch, or serve smaller portions for an entree. It would even be delicious served cold in the summer, just omit the kale chips, add a drizzle of mint sauce and serve with some tortilla chips.

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Seves 6


1 tablespoon olive oil

6 spring onions, white and most of the green part, sliced

3 cloves garlic, crushed

5cm pice ginger, grated

1 tsp dried mint

4 baby potatoes, peeled and diced

1L vegetable stock

1kg peas

10 stalks fresh mint, large leaves chopped and small leaves reserved for garnish

400ml can organic coconut cream, 1/2 for soup and 1/2 reserved for serving

salt and pepper

1 bunch kale, stalks removed and leaves chopped into quarters

spray oil

salt and pepper

bread to serve, whatever kind you like


Pre-heat oven to 180 Degrees Celcius.

Arrange kale on two baking trays, spray with a little oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Bake for 10mins, swapping trays half way, or until crunchy and starting to brown at the edges. Remove from oven and leave to cool on trays.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the onion. Sauté for about 5 mins or until soft, add the garlic, ginger and dried mint and sauté for another 2 mins, making sure it doesn’t brown at all.

Add the vegetable stock and the potatoes and bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 15 mins.

Put the heat back up to high and add the peas, just bring to the boil and take off the heat. Add the mint and some salt and pepper. Use a stick blender to blend until smooth. Stir half of the coconut cream through, check for seasoning, add more if necessary and your ready to serve!

To serve, drizzle with remaining coconut cream, crumbled kale chips, extra mint leaves and some cracked pepper. Oh, plus your nice warm bread!



Sesame Roasted Salmon and Soba Noodle Salad with Miso Glazed Pumpkin.

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After a beautiful afternoon of canoeing on the river, watching the sunset, I was pretty happy to discover that I had all the ingredients at home to make this delicious, healthful salad. I love the slippery texture of soba noodles with the crunch of fresh vegetables and sesame seeds. The salmon adds just the right amount of protein while the dressings are sweet and tangy.

To make it vegetarian you could replace the salmon with some tofu; omit the fish sauce from the dressing and marinate and fry some firm tofu.

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Serves 4

2 large salmon fillets, skin on

1 packet soba noodles, cooked to packet directions

1 large carrot, julienned

1/4 white cabbage shredded

1 packet endamame beans, blanched

1/4 cup finely chopped mint

2 tablespoons of black sesame seeds

Sesame Dressing

4 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 teaspoon lime juice


Pickled ginger and wasabi paste to serve

Miso glazed pumpkin

1 small butternut pumpkin, cut into 1 cm thick triangles

3 tablespoons white miso paste

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

salt and pepper


To make sesame dressing combine ingredients in a mortar and pestle and grind to form a paste.

Place salmon in a bowl with a few tablespoons of sesame paste and marinate for about 30 mins.

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Combine, noodles, vegetables and mint in a large bowl with a couple of tablespoons of sesame dressing and gently toss to combine.

Roast salmon, skin side down for about 20mins or until just cooked. Pull salmon apart into chunks and toss through with the salad. Check for seasoning and add more dressing if necessary. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

To make miso glazed pumpkin, combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. Heat a grill pan over medium heat. sprinkle with sesame oil. In batches, place pumpkin in a single layer and brush with miso mixture. Turn and brush other side, cook until just tender. Repeat with remaining pumpkin.

Serve salad with pumpkin on the side as well as pickled ginger and wasabi paste.



Thai Poached Chicken, Kumara, and Wild Rice Salad with Kaffir Lime and Coconut Dressing


I’m going to make this quick, the sun has just come out and I need to get to the beach!

This salad is delicious! Great textures and flavours, fresh and exciting! It’s really satisfying without making you feel too full afterwards. Gluten free and dairy free, it ticks all the boxes!

And it all came about because I had an abundance of kumara sitting around needing to be used. And I’m also a bit obsessed with coconut and lime at the moment, I think that’s just me wishing I was on a Caribbean island somewhere….

Definitely try and use a variety of kumara for this salad, they all taste different and have different textures when cooked. I used the good old orange as well as the purple skinned, white flesh variety. The purple skin variety holds its shape much better when baked, where the orange ones tend to go quite soft.


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Recipe (serves 4)


For the chicken

2-3 free range chicken breast

4 cups chicken stock

1 lemongrass stick, bashed and chopped

rind of 1 kaffir lime

4 kaffir lime leaves, chopped

5cm piece ginger, sliced

roots from 1 bunch coriander, washed

1 tbspn peppercorns

2 tbspn brown sugar

lemon oil (substitute olive oil)

For the salad

3 medium sweet potatoes (use a variety if possible)

olive oil

coriander seeds

300g wild rice

4 shallots, sliced

1 green chilli, half finely chopped and half sliced for decoration

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 bunch coriander, leaves and stems roughly chopped

1/2 bunch mint, leaves roughly chopped plus some whole for decoration

2 cups baby spinach roughly chopped

juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper

1/2 cup toasted flaked coconut

1/2 cup roasted cashews, roughly chopped

micro herbs and edible flowers (optional)

For the dressing

400ml coconut cream

1 kaffir lime leaf, chopped

juice of half a lime

1 tbspn coconut sugar (substitute brown sugar)

1/2 lemongrass stalk, bashed and chopped

5cm piece ginger, chopped

1/2 cup of the liquid used to cook the chicken, strained


To poach the chicken, place all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to the simmer on a medium heat, simmer for 5-10mins, or until just cooked. Remove chicken from liquid and allow to cool slightly. Slice and drizzle with lemon oil to prevent it from drying out. Cover with cling wrap until needed.

Peel and cut sweet potatoes into long wedges. Toss with olive oil, coriander seeds, salt and pepper. Spread onto lined baking trays in a single layer. Bake in a 200 degrees oven for about 1/2 hr, or until golden and crispy on the edges. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile cook wild rice according to packet directions. Allow to cool before adding remaining salad ingredients, reserving the decorative chilli and mint and the coconut and cashews.

To make the dressing combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 10mins. Strain, and allow to cool in the fridge.

To assemble the salad layer the rice mixture with the sweet potato and the chicken. Sprinkle with mint, chilli, coconut, cashews, micro herbs and flowers. Serve with dressing on the side for people to dress their own.