Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Vietnamese Chicken Salad [Quick From Scratch Chicken, Turkey & Cornish Hens]

What caught my eye with Quick From Scratch's Vietnamese Chicken Salad was the combination of fresh cilantro and mint, plus the inclusion of some reasonably authentic flavours. This is still a westernized recipe (I mean, it's from the 90s), but I think it turned out pretty well.

Cookbook Recipe:

  • 1 1/3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 - I got a value pack and stashed the extras in the freezer)
  • 1 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  • 4 scallions, including green tops, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 lbs green cabbage, shredded (I got lucky at the grocery store, there was only one half-head of cabbage and it weighed that amount exactly)
  • 3 carrots, grated
  • 6 tbsp chopped fresh mint and/or cilantro (the cookbook says you can use one or the other if necessary, but they work great together)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (2 limes worth)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or fish sauce (I went with soy sauce since it was on hand)
  • 4 tsp sugar (that's a lot of sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (that's not a lot of pepper flakes)
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
Following the cookbook recipe exactly:

1. Cut each breast into five diagonal pieces. In a saucepan, bring the broth, 1/4 of the scallions, and 1/4 tsp salt. Bring to a simmer, add chicken, stir and cover. The recipe says to cook over a low heat for 5 minutes, but I found a medium heat was needed to make sure the chicken cooked. Turn the heat off and let the chicken steam for 5 minutes. I think this step is also to let it cool down for shredding, but it's still scalding hot when it comes out of the pan. Remove the chicken and shred it.

2. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrots, rest of the scallions, chicken, and 4 tbsp of the mint and cilantro.

3. In a small bowl, whisk the lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, pepper flakes, and 1/4 tsp salt. Toss dressing in with salad. Top with the remaining herbs and the peanuts.

The Outcome:

This is pretty good! The flavours come together pretty well, though I think the lime juice comes through a bit sharp, though I have a feeling it will probably gel better after sitting in the fridge for a bit. While it's not a truly authentic Vietnamese recipe, it does have a lot of Vietnamese flavours, especially with the lime, soy sauce, cilantro, and peanuts. The mint adds some interesting depth, and it's generally a pretty healthy salad too. I could see myself making this again, especially for a potluck.

Of course, as always, it could use more chili.

1/4 tsp for the entire salad. Really.

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