The most refreshing, satisfying salad!
If you are looking for a healthy lunch or dinner option that leaves you saying YES! Look no further. Everything about this salad is bright and fresh. The combination of warm, juicy chicken, with crunchy cabbage, carrots, cool cucumbers is perfection. Drizzled with a traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce, nuoc cham, which is a little sweet, a little tangy, and refreshing. Cool rice noodles are added to the mix to give the salad a little more substance.
The rice noodles used in this salad are different from noodles made from wheat flour. Rice noodles are made from rice flour and water. The particular style of rice noodle I use in this recipe are vermicelli noodles, which means long thin strands. They are very slender, similar to angel hair pasta. Other types of noodles you could use in this recipe would be bean thread/cellophane/glass noodles. These are great options as well, they are even more fine and delicate than rice noodles, and have a clear appearance. They are made from mung beans- the heads of bean sprouts. Sometimes glass noodles can be hard to find in the store, use what you can find.
What type of cabbage to use?
There are a bunch of different varieties of cabbage out there. For this chicken noodle salad you want to choose a cabbage with delicate leaves, and a cabbage with sweet leaves. Regular green cabbage has the most firm leaves of the cabbage options, and is not as sweet as some other varieties. For this reason, I am using napa cabbage. You could also use savoy cabbage. Napa cabbage is the oblong cabbage, football shaped, with ruffled leaves. It is sweet, and tender. You could also use savoy cabbage, round like a traditional green cabbage, but also with ruffled leaves, and it is sweet as well. If you can’t find napa or savoy, you can always use the regular green cabbage, but I recommend really finely shredding it.
For the dressing, nuoc cham
Nuoc cham, dipping sauce, in English. Is a traditional thin sauce used in Vietnamese cooking. It contains fish sauce, lime juice, coconut sugar and water. If you’ve never used fish sauce before, don’t fear! When combined with the rest of the ingredients for the sauce you won’t even know it’s fish sauce. Fish sauce is fermented anchovies and salt. It is pretty salty stuff, this recipe uses 1/8 cup, and mixed with the other ingredients makes about 1 cup of dressing, enough for a few salads.
Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Salad
For the Chicken
For the Nuoc Cham Dressing
For the Salad
Make the Chicken
- Combine all ingredients for the chicken in a small bowl.
- Add chicken thighs, toss to coat.
- Let marinate for 20 minutes, up to 1 hour.
If you marinated your chicken thighs at room temperature, they will take less time to cook. If you are taking them straight out of the refrigerator and cooking them cold, they will take longer, more like 20-25 minutes. As a general rule, chicken thighs take longer to cook than other parts of the chicken, like the breast meat.
- Heat cast iron skillet over medium heat.
- Add 1 teaspoon oil.
- Cook chicken thighs, letting each side get a nice brown char.
- Turn heat down to medium-low. Cover and cook until cooked through, approximately 10-15 minutes total.
- Remove from heat, let cool slightly before slicing thinly.
For the Nuoc Cham Salad Dressing
- In a medium jar with lid combine all ingredients for the dressing.
- Swirl jar to dissolve sugar.
Assemble the Salad
- Plate salad by arranging vegetables, meat and noodles on a plate.
- Using a spoon, drizzle the dressing to your preference over the veggies and noodles.
This Vietnamese salad is great for make ahead lunches. Store chicken, veggies and noodles all separately in air tight containers in the refrigerator. When ready to eat, assemble and drizzle with the salad dressing.