Vietnamese Chicken Salad

This is one of my favorite light summer lunches. It’s really easy – particularly if you have leftover cooked chicken around (or if you are lazy like yours truly and buy the big bag of rotisserie chicken meat from Costco…). It’s also a fantastic way to introduce toddlers to complex flavors, if you’re doing baby led weaning or just want to try some new things.

The original recipe comes from the domestic goddess herself, Nigella Lawson. I’ve adapted it to make it a little simpler, so I don’t have to shop for anything I wouldn’t normally be buying anyway. I’m also not too strict about the amounts I put in, as usual, so feel free to improvise.

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This is amazing served as I did here, just with some cut up mango (my kids love mango!). If you’re feeling even more inspired, you can make up a cold glass of fancy limeade or cucumber water and pretend you’re in a spa. At least until you have to help your toddler with his fork again. 

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Dressing:

  • 2 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon chili-garlic paste (I always have this in the door of my fridge!)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (or the juice of one fresh lime)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix all dressing ingredients together in a bowl and let sit while you prepare everything else.

Salad:

  • About 8 ounces bagged coleslaw mix (this is about half a bag, from my grocery store – save the rest for fish tacos!)
  • About 8 ounces cooked and cooled chicken breast meat, shredded or chopped into chunks (this is about two small chicken breasts, if you’re cooking it just for this)
  • Small handful fresh cilantro, chopped finely (if you hate cilantro, leave this out!)
  • Small handful fresh mint, chopped finely

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Add prepared dressing and mix thoroughly. Serve immediately, at room temperature or lightly chilled. (You can put it in the fridge for a little while, but once you’ve added the dressing, don’t wait too long to serve or the cabbage won’t be nice and crunchy anymore.)

Notes: if you need to bulk out this salad to serve more, you can add a pack of glass noodles! It’s super good that way too. Additionally, if you want it to be portable, it’s fantastic served inside rice noodle wrappers – the kind they make vietnamese summer rolls in! Wrap it up and take it to the park!

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