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Vietnamese-Inspired Chicken Salad with Rice Noodles

54 reviews / 4.6 average

2015, I love you already.

This salad is the flavor bomb of my life. I am trying to really put into words how much my mouth loves this combination of fresh and unexpected flavors, crunchy-filling textures, and nutritious food power. But mostly all I can do is just close my eyes and ask myself: is it crossing the line to eat this for breakfast?

This Vietnamese-Inspired Chicken Salad starts with the tangy, salty, lime-and-garlic-y dressing, which totally shines with the cooling mint + cilantro and a handful of fiery-crisp serrano peppers, which all results in me wrapping my fork with a combination of spicy-cool, salty-tangy veggies, chicken, and NOODLES (♡♡♡).

Yahhssss.

How To Make Our Vietnamese-Inspired Chicken Salad (1 MIN 5 SEC):

Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Rice Noodles close up.
Herbs.
Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Rice Noodles in a white bowl.

Even though I am not a teacher anymore, I feel like I am forever entitled to a two week teacher-schedule-style winter break, which is totally ridiculous and not even close to realistic in real life but, um, hi. I would still like to have it.

So while Bjork and I did some work here and there and at all odd hours of the night like true Internet people over the last two weeks, we’ve had some really awesome time to get up and out from behind the computer and be alive.

After the week of Christmas (parties, sick days, and out-of-town-friend-visits, oh my!), we split ways: Bjork took a week-long road trip with some friends, visiting cool hipster donut shops and eating, uhh, how do we say this? rustic? hot dogs from mom-and-pop stands around Chicago, while I, on the other hand, had a week full of slumber parties with my sisters and girlfriends, including sushi dates, a popcorn-and-ice-cream viewing of The Vow (Channing + Rachel + me being shamelessly obsessed), and shopping for post-Christmas-sales and new running gear for my healthy New Self in the New Year.

Speaking of which!

I am probably going to be eating 50x my daily recommended amount of chicken, cabbage, carrots, noodles, mint, cilantro, and Vietnamese-style dressing in the first week of the New Year. You guys, this is one major vegetable party! I’m glowing just thinking about it.

Jalapeños.
Jalapeños.
Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Rice Noodles in a bowl.

This recipe was inspired by a recipe for a Vietnamese salad out of the new Saveur cookbook that I got for Christmas, which I have decided to read COVER TO COVER like a true food geek. Not joking. I have never read a cookbook cover to cover, but I’m currently halfway through and have at least 800 pages earmarked with delicious recipe ideas to try, so I’m thinking I might make it a life rule for cookbooks.

This Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Rice Noodles <— important! is so, so, so, sooo yummy. Like to the point that I can’t even think of anything else to say besides “it’s so, so, sooo yummy.”

The shredded carrots, cabbage, chicken, and noodles make the base of the salad, and the mint, cilantro, and green onions just make my flavor-loving heart soar: it’s like I’m taking a cooling spa bath with every bite.

And then, the dressing. I’m just going to tell you right now: its primary saltiness comes from the fish sauce, which is not going to smell awesome when you give the bottle a sniff BUT YOU GUYS. Please, please, please don’t skip it. Remember how delicious the fish sauce is in this red curry sauce? Same goes for this one. I honestly feel like the fish sauce is what makes the dressing, because paired with the lime and the rice vinegar and the sugar and the garlic? Ugh. So much good going on in there.

Yeah. Like, ultra yeah.

Three cheers for the salad in 2015!

Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Rice Noodles in a white bowl with a fork.

Source notes: This recipe isn’t a true Vietnamese salad but rather has Vietnamese-inspired flavors and ingredients, like fish sauce, lime juice, serrano peppers, and rice vinegar. For a delicious and more authentic Vietnamese salad, we’d recommend Kaylie’s Goi Ga salad recipe.

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Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Rice Noodles in a bowl.

Vietnamese-Inspired Chicken Salad with Rice Noodles


Description

Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Rice Noodles made with chicken, cabbage, carrots, homemade dressing, lime juice, mint, and cilantro. Adapted from the Vietnamese Chicken Salad in the Saveur New Classics cookbook.


Ingredients

Scale

For the Dressing

  • 3 serrano peppers
  • 4 cloves 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
  • 6 ounces rice noodles
  • 4 large carrots, peeled
  • 810 full leaves of green cabbage
  • one large handful of each — cilantro leaves, mint leaves, and green onions

Instructions

  1. DRESSING: Thinly slice the serranos and set aside. Pulse all the remaining dressing ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Stir in the sliced serranos.
  2. CHICKEN: Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. When the water reaches a rolling boil, add the chicken breasts, turn heat off, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Let the chicken cook for 25-30 minutes – while it’s cooking, you can prep the other ingredients. Remove from water, let cool slightly, and shred with two forks. Pour a small amount of the prepared dressing on the chicken to give it flavor and set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. NOODLES: Soak the rice noodles in a large bowl of cold water for 15 minutes or until softened. Heat a small amount of the dressing in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the drained noodles and stir-fry for 5 minutes (I found it helpful to grab the handle and give the pan a good shake every 30 seconds or so). Cut through the noodles with a kitchen scissors if you want them to be shorter and easier to eat.
  4. VEGETABLES: Cut the carrots into pieces and pulse in a food processor for 10-15 seconds until finely chopped. Shred the cabbage. Mince the cilantro, mint, and green onions.
  5. ASSEMBLY: Toss the chicken, noodles, vegetables, and remaining dressing (to taste) together. Serve immediately.

Notes

I loved the little bite of heat with this recipe! I would describe it as mild++. But if you are nervous about the level of spiciness, just remove the ribs and seeds before adding the peppers to the dressing.

If you’re assembling the recipe ahead of time, I would suggest keeping the veggies separate from the dressing, and tossing it together just before serving.

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Vietnamese-Inspired

Keywords: vietnamese salad, vietnamese chicken salad, rice noodle salad

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Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Rice Noodles made with chicken, cabbage, carrots, lime, mint, cilantro, and a tangy homemade dressing. 370 calories and SO good!

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205 Comments

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I am thankful that you are using real carbs in a noodle recipe! I love zucchini but real deal noodles are sometimes needed. Love the spicy but sweet/sour tones of this dish. Also those colours are hard to beat! Gorgeous meal!

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo

    The wife and I were just talking about going out for some Vietnamese food but we should really just make this instead. Hello veggie party ~ there you are.

    And we were thinking about taking separate vacations, me Alaska, she, anywhere in Europe. But then we realized we had small children who can barely handle the car ride to SkyZone.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      yes! I wish I knew of Vietnamese food around here… you’ve got me thinking about searching some out for dinner….

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This salad is so gorgeous. I can practically taste all those fabulous flavors in my mouth. And now that my favorite Vietnamese restaurant near my house closed down… sad face… I will have to start making these things myself. But this salad looks totally doable. Bring it on! 🙂

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I haven’t seen The Vow yet but I definitely watched The Notebook on Lifetime yesterday and cried so hard snot came dribbling down my face. Basic? Maybe.
    My sister and I looove asian salad combos. This will surely be making an appearance on our dinner table in the near future!

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Stephanie S.

    Looks like a Vietnamese Spring roll in a bowl! Gorgeous! Shrimp would be lovely in this too.

    Fish sauce is a fabulous ingredient…the mistake people make is to take big wiff-smell of it then it freaks them out. People just need to measure, toss it in and stick the lid back on with noooo bottle smelling

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo

    So bright and fresh! The perfect lunch time pick me up for these grey winter days. I think I may make this for lunch next week.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Someone just commented that she used oyster sauce that was diluted a bit with, I think it was soy sauce? And/or water? But are you allergic to that too? 🙁

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This looks amazing, and thanks for a Vietnamese salad recipe without peanuts! Not allergic, just not a fan!

    And reading cookbooks cover to cover is not normal..? Oops!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Maybe it is normal!? Usually I just “peruse” through them, but this one is HUGE, only a few pictures, and I am READING it reading it.

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This salad is for reals calling my name. I’m doin’ it!

    Also, is the husband in The Vow not the most amazing man (in personality and looks, obvs)? I’m not surprised she ended up rolling with it. 🙂

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        I made a big batch of this salad, and reallllly loved it except that the fish sauce ended up being overwhelming for me. Next time: half fish sauce, half soy sauce. Because there WILL be a next time!

        1. Pinch of Yum Logo
          Stephanie

          Me too! Couldn’t even eat it with the fish sauce. I dumped the dressing and used Whole Foods peanut sauce. I love all Asian food too so I was surprised! Maybe a typo on tablespoons vs teaspoons??

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Hi Lindsay,

    No amount of jalapeno peppers will warm me up with the kind of BELOW 50 degrees temps you have in Minnesota, though, this dish is very refreshing. A former co-worker brought this during a Christmas party years ago and everyone got seconds. It was irresistible. Thanks for sharing. —jean

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Susan

    This salad sounds wonderful. I’ll have to pass on the Serrano peppers because neither my husband or I can deal with that level of heat (he’s suddenly turned into a wimp that way). Fish sauce is definitely a ‘must’ ingredient for most southeast Asian cuisines. It’s one of those ingredients you can’t leave out and still get authentic flavor.