Vietnamese chicken salad makes a great party dish or a light lunch and is one of my favorite salads.
Quantities of ingredients in the dressing are adjustable as some ingredients differ in strength among brands, however the proper balance of tart and sweet should be attained.
Some recommend adding basil leaves to the salad, while others add shredded celery or shredded cucumber.
Ingredients: 6 servings
500 g. boneless skinless chicken breasts (cooked leftover chicken will do)
3 cups chicken stock or water
1 bay leaf, 1 cinnamon stick, few white pepper corns, and one star anise (optional)
3 cups thinly sliced Chinese cabbage (called Napa cabbage), (200 g.)
1¾ cups thinly cut carrots (120 g.)
1 to 2 red chilies, seeds removed, finely chopped
1¼ cup compact mint leaves, roughly chopped, (20 g.)
1¼ cup compact coriander leaves, roughly chopped (20 g.)
1 onion (60 g.), thinly sliced half moon shape
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1½ tablespoon rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
3½ tablespoons Chinese fish sauce (nuac nam)
1½ tablespoons sugar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
⅓ cup raw peanuts, chopped (see note below)
1½ tablespoons brown sugar
For decoration: (optional)
Red and green chilies cut like a flower and placed in the refrigerator for few hours till they open.
1. Pound the chicken breasts to thin and even thickness.
2. Place chicken stock with the aromatics (or water with salt and the aromatics) in a pan over heat and when hot add the chicken breasts and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes or till cooked. Cool then place in the refrigerator to facilitate cutting. Cut or shred to 5 cm. thin strips.
3. Mix sauce ingredients and pour over chicken. (Salad may be prepared to this stage a day in advance).
4. Add chicken to the rest of the salad ingredients, mix and place on a serving plate. Scatter the fried garlic-peanut mixture (topping) on top and garnish with the chilies if being used.
5. To prepare topping: Place the vegetable oil over medium heat and add garlic, fry till garlic starts to color, add peanuts and brown sugar and fry few seconds more.
Grilled peanuts from the roastary may be used instead of raw peanuts, peel before using.
I like to double the quantity of ingredients for top and place half of them in the middle of the salad.