SALADS

Vietnamese chicken noodle salad

Vietnamese chicken noodle salad

We usually enjoy this exotic but simple salad in one of two ways — either as a lunch or light dinner, or used as a filling in fresh rice paper rolls. It can also be served as a side salad, but it’s so hearty, delicious and well balanced that it usually ends up as the centerpiece of the meal.

This is also one of those salads you can play around with and vary to suit your own tastes. The chicken can be replaced with shrimp, chunks of good-quality canned tuna, or even cubes of baked marinated tofu (here’s our recipe for that).

If you’re not a fan of cilantro (fresh coriander), you can use roughly chopped fresh mint leaves instead. Cashew nuts or sliced almonds can be used to replace the peanuts, and other vegetables that work well with this salad include snow peas, finely shredded cabbage, or diced green or red pepper.

You can also use the vibrantly-flavored dressing as a marinade for fish, seafood or chicken before grilling or barbecuing.

And don’t be intimidated by the fact that this salad is Vietnamese. Apart from the fish sauce (which is easy to find even at smaller supermarkets), most of the other ingredients are no doubt already very familiar to you including cucumber, carrots, scallions (scallions), peanuts, limes, bean sprouts, and of course chicken.

Vietnamese chicken noodle salad
Serves 4
A fresh and flavorful Vietnamese salad with rice noodles, shredded chicken, crisp vegetables and crunchy peanuts.
3 oz (85g) dried rice vermicelli noodles
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon water
1 garlic clove — minced
2 teaspoons peanut or canola oil
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon finely chopped red chili (or ½ teaspoon dried chili flakes)
2 cups bean sprouts
1 carrot — grated
1 cup thinly sliced cucumber — cut into half-moons
2 scallions — thinly sliced on diagonal
2 cups shredded skinless rotisserie chicken
¼ cup roasted unsalted peanuts — lightly crushed
A handful of cilantro (fresh coriander) leaves
SOAK the noodles in boiling water for 5 minutes. WHILE the noodles soak, place the fish sauce, lime juice, water, garlic, oil, sugar and chili in a screw-top jar and shake to combine. RINSE the noodles under cold water and drain well. PLACE the noodles in a salad bowl with the sprouts, carrot, cucumber, scallions, chicken, peanuts, and cilantro and toss to mix. POUR over the dressing and toss again to thoroughly combine.

Variations: The chicken can be replaced with shrimp, chunks of good-quality canned tuna, or even cubes of baked marinated tofu. If you’re not a fan of cilantro you can use roughly chopped fresh mint leaves instead. Cashew nuts or sliced almonds can be used to replace the peanuts, and other vegetables that work well with this salad include snow peas, finely shredded cabbage, or diced green or red pepper.