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I am so so thrilled to share this recipe for Vietnamese Chicken Salad (Goi Ga Bap Cai) with you all! This salad is one of those staples at most Vietnamese restaurants, and is usually served as an appetizer, family style, but I’ve been known to order it for myself as an entree.
One of the best parts of this salad is how healthy yet filling it is. The poached chicken is treated as a core component, rather than a sad afterthought sitting off to the side. And the vegetables are hearty and filling and can certainly hold up to a day or two in the fridge if you can’t eat it all right away (hello cabbage!).
Vietnamese Chicken Salad is dressed with a simple and classic sauce – Nuoc Cham – a combination of sweet, sour, and umami flavors (fish sauce!) and dresses this salad up perfectly.
And don’t forget your herbs! Mint, cilantro, and Thai basil are the Vietnamese classics.
Tips for Poaching Chicken
- Definitely select the highest quality chicken you can find/afford. It will make the end result so much better. I recommend organic.
- Use aromatics! In this recipe we use ginger and scallions to make the chicken extra flavorful. You can really taste the difference.
- Don’t boil for too long- bring the water just to a boil and immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. This will prevent your chicken from becoming too tough and rubbery.
- 20 minutes is all it takes! Let your chicken rest and cool before shredding for the recipe.
- Using a Mandoline will help you out for sure if you need help shredding the cabbage and julienne-ing the carrots. You could also use a food processor fitted with a shredding attachment as well, but it wont be quite as perfect.
- Don’t want to bother with frying your own shallots? You can buy packaged fried shallots ahead of time as well.
Craving Vietnamese? Check out these other recipes too!
Happy Cooking! Have a great weekend!
Vietnamese Chicken Salad (Goi Ga Bap Cai)
For the Poached Chicken
- 2 chicken breasts boneless, skinless
- 1 large knob ginger peeled
- 2 scallions roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
For the salad
- 1/4 head green cabbage shredded
- 1 large carrot shredded
- 1/2 small sweet onion thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup thai basil (I used whole leaves)
- 1/4 cup fresh mint roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro roughly chopped
For the Dressing
- 1 lime juiced
- 1 small clove garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon jalepeno minced (or more, to taste)
- 3 tbsp white sugar
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
For the Add-Ins
- 1/3 cup toasted peanuts roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup fried shallots packaged, or homemade (for homemade see directions below)
To Poach the Chicken
- In a saucepan, add chicken breasts, ginger, scallions, and salt. Add just enough water to cover chicken. Bring to a boil, then immediately cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked.
- Remove chicken and set aside. Let chicken rest and cool before handling.
- Once cool enough, shred chicken into thin pieces using your fingers. Store in a bowl and place in refrigerator to chill while you prep the other ingredients.
If Frying your own Shallots
- Thinly slice 1 shallot. Heat about 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and fry, watching closely, watching for them to turn a golden color. Quickly remove from oil using slotted spoon and allow to drain on a paper towel. Set aside.
For the Dressing
- In a bowl or mason jar, combine lime juice, garlic, jalepeno, sugar, and fish sauce. Whisk or shake to combine thoroughly.
To Make the Salad
- Place onion in a small bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside for 5 minutes or so (this lets the onion flavor mellow just a bit). Drain before using.
- In a large bowl combine cabbage, carrots, herbs, soaked onion, and shredded chicken.
- Pour dressing over the entire salad, and toss to combine.
- Add peanuts and fried shallot just before serving. Enjoy!
I could eat this three times a day! Such great ingredients, flavors and textures. Plus you could use a rotisserie chicken if necessary. But I love ginger in the poaching liquid!
Yes!!! Would be easy to adapt if you didn’t want to poach the chicken (but I agree the ginger makes it extra awesome). Thanks Mimi 🙂