Friday, March 18, 2016

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Last Year's Post:  Lemon Chicken Teriyaki Rice Bowl
Two Years Ago:   Filipino Chicken Adobo

I seriously love the bold, clean flavors of Vietnamese cuisine, and I equally love that it typically emphasizes more veggies and less meat - just the way we're supposed to be eating.  This salad is a great example:  big flavors, plenty of veggies, and a little bit of shredded chicken that's treated as a garnish rather than as a big heavy chunk of meat.  The Chinese cabbage, carrots and peanuts give it plenty of crunch and substantial volume.  Plus it's pretty.  And easy.  What more could you want?

If you buy a roasted chicken breast at the store, prep will take about 20 minutes tops - it's mostly chopping, plus you have to soak the rice noodles.  The salad is served at room temperature and makes an easy and healthy dinner any time of the year.

If you're not familiar with Chinese cabbage, it may also be referred to as Napa cabbage and looks like this.

You can find rice noodles in the Asian section of any grocery store, and ditto with the fish sauce.  Don't be scared of fish sauce - it adds some underlying pungency to Vietnamese dishes but it's not fishy.

This is a great example of eating healthy while still having a pretty special meal.

print recipe
Vietnamese Chicken Salad
Serves 4

For the dressing:
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 2 limes (about ¼ cup)
¼ cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar

For the salad:
3-4 ounces dried rice noodles
1 cooked chicken breast, bones removed and meat shredded
1 red or green jalapeno, stemmed, seeds removed, thinly sliced
4 cups shredded Chinese (Napa) cabbage
1 ½ cups shredded or julienned carrot
½  cup shredded fresh basil
½ cup shredded fresh mint leaves (plus extra for garnish)
1 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
1 lime, cut into thin wedges

Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl, whisking to dissolve the sugar.  Set aside.

Prepare the rice noodles by placing in a medium bowl and covering with boiling water.  Let stand 10 minutes, then drain.  Toss with 1/3 of the dressing.  Toss the cabbage with another 1/3 of the dressing. 

Combine the shredded basil and mint in a small bowl.  Divide the rice noodles, cabbage, carrot and shredded chicken among four shallow bowls.  Top with jalapeno slices, fresh herbs, peanuts, lime wedges and additional mint leaves for garnish.  Drizzle with the remaining dressing and serve immediately.

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