Vietnamese Style Chicken Salad, a crisp, cool, delicious main dish salad!

Vietnamese Style Chicken Salad. It's what's on my plate!

Recently I did a cooking demonstration for our local transit authority and all the ladies and gentlemen who drive our city buses in Rochester, as a part of their Wellness program. The topic for the day was Main Dish Salads. This was one of the recipes I shared with them and they ate every last morsel from the large bowl I prepared for them! It was an obvious hit, not surprisingly, because it is really delicious. I’ve also made this for my family and even my 12 year old son thinks it is great!

This salad is packed with tons of interesting vegetables, not just your average iceberg lettuce, and it features a crisp, tangy dressing made with virtually no oil. The addition of lean chicken makes this a great, healthy meal that you can put together in no time.

The framework for the recipe was from Fine Cooking magazine, but I’ve tweaked it by adding more veggies and changing the dressing a little.

Vietnamese-Style Chicken Salad
Chef Mary Beth Brinkerhoff, For Goodness Taste Personal Chef Services

For the dressing:
3 small shallots, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
1 jalapeno, chopped (seed first if you want less heat)
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup rice vinegar
zest of one lime
3 Tbs. fish sauce* (recommended but optional)
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil (optional)

1 lb. grilled chicken breast or rotisserie chicken, shredded

6 oz. package coleslaw mix
1 c. snow peas, sliced lengthwise into thin strips
½ red pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 cup fresh mint leaves, torn if large
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup salted peanuts, cashews or almonds coarsely chopped

Finely chop the shallots, jalapeno, sugar, and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Transfer to a large serving bowl and stir in the vinegar and fish sauce.
Season the chicken with 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper and grill, turning once, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Let cool and then shred the chicken with your fingers into long thin strips, pulling the meat along its natural grain.
Toss the coleslaw mix and vegetables into the vinegar mixture. Add the chicken, mint, and cilantro and combine well. Top with the nuts and serve at room temperature.

Chef’s notes: I used a mixture of rice wine vinegar and a honeyed ginger balsamic vinegar. If you are lucky enough to have a store that carries flavored oils and vinegars like F. Olivers in Canandaigua, NY, it’s worth a field trip to explore!

Now that the warm weather is finally here, it’s time to enjoy the lighter fresher tastes of summer!!