Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Rice Noodles

IMG_8699VCStitleAfter several days of eating some pretty unhealthy food (we’re talking Mexican food several times, plus there may have been ice cream involved, not saying for sure), I was feeling the need this morning to eat some vegetables, and fresh food, and something with a crunch (the almonds in the ice cream don’t count).  So I went looking on Pinterest, and as if by magic this recipe came up.  I had almost all the ingredients on hand, so I made it for lunch today.

The recipe is on this blog, and let me just say that the author goes a little bit nuts for this recipe.  I thought her description was somewhat over the top, but after I tried the salad, I was feeling a bit hyperbolic myself.  It was really, really good and it was just what I was looking for.

I made a few changes.  You can read the original recipe on the author’s blog, but I am going to retype it here using my changes.IMG_8700VCSclose

Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Rice Noodles
(serves 4-6)
For the Dressing:
3 serrano peppers, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
4 Tablespoons fish sauce
6 Tablespoons lime juice
6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
For the Salad:
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked in water until just done, diced
6 ounces rice noodles
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped coarsely
8 oz. package of shredded cabbage (I used red cabbage, because that’s what they had, but green cabbage or Chinese cabbage would be great too)
large handful cilantro leaves, chopped
large handful mint leaves, chopped
crispy Chinese noodles

Dressing: place all of the dressing ingredients in a jar and combine.
*A note here about the serranos–I seeded them, which takes most of the heat out, but the original author does not.  Maybe her peppers aren’t as hot as mine, but I don’t think I could have eaten them with the seeds in.  And it’s me telling you this–me, veteran of Thai Taste Heat Level 18. I think the serranos give this dressing and the salad a great flavor and taste, but you can leave them out if you’re wimpy.
*And another note about the garlic–I love garlic, but it doesn’t love me in my old age, so I took the clove of garlic and smashed it, and put it into the dressing to steep.  I won’t be able to eat it, but the original recipe calls for blending 4 cloves into the dressing.  Would love to, can’t do it.

Chicken: After dicing the chicken breasts, pour a little of the finished dressing onto them to amp up the flavor.

Noodles: I really diverged from the author’s recipe on these.  My noodles didn’t soften like hers presumably did, so here’s what I did: Soak the rice noodles in a large bowl of cold water for 15 minutes.  Heat a small amount of the dressing in a skillet over medium high heat, add the drained noodles, and stir fry for a few minutes.  When the noodles look like they’re starting to stick, add water to cover and bring to a boil.  Cook until softened to your taste.  Drain and cut them into bite sized lengths, or leave them as is.

Toss the chicken and vegetables together, add the noodles, and pour over the dressing to taste.  I used all of it. The crispy Chinese noodles add a lovely crunch and flavor.

I plan to experiment with this recipe in the future.  I think chopped peanuts instead of the crispy noodles would be delicious, and I think that chopped cucumber would be an interesting addition. I’m going to try adding some Thai basil.  And of course, for all you cilantro haters, go ahead and leave it out if you must.IMG_8697VCSmat

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