I know I’ve made something really really amazing when everyone at the table can’t stop eating. So, when I made this Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Rice Noodles and the entire thing was gone within 15 minutes, I knew I had hit the jackpot. In fact, if I’m being completely honest, I was a little sad I hadn’t made more. I definitely could have gone back for thirds and having no leftovers to look forward to the next day was just depressing (seriously, I should have named this blog Must Have Leftovers or Will Cook for Leftovers).
My point? If you really love leftovers as much as I do, make extra (I have hoarding tendencies when I really love something, though, so maybe just ignore me that last part).
Anywayyy, this noodle salad is GOOD. Rice noodles and fresh veggies like carrots, bell pepper and lots of fresh chopped cabbage are tossed together with healthy boneless skinless shredded chicken. The dressing takes 5 minutes to blend together and is made of spicy peppers, salty fish sauce (smells terrible, but tastes delicious), lime and sugar. A huge part of what makes this salad so amazing, however, is the fresh chopped cilantro and green onion and fresh lime juice tossed in just before serving. The difference with and without the fresh additions is huge (not just in this salad, but in all salads).
The outcome is an easy, healthy and FRESH summer salad.
So, tomorrow I will be leaving Octavian with my husband alone OVERNIGHT for the first time ever. EVER.
Even when I was in the hospital after I had a stroke, we had people stay with us to help. So this will be the first whole 24 hours that my husband will have to run the house solo since, well, a really really long time.
And he has the puppy.
And it’s suppose to be 106 degrees.
I will be back to put Octavian in bed on Saturday night, but I’m nervous. These two males in my life, though years apart, are both stubborn and controlling (and loving and SMART) and so all I can hope is that, please universe, help these two take it easy on each other.
And, please, dear child of mine, don’t freak out when I’m not the one to crawl in bed with you in the middle of the night.
- 3 serrano peppers I used 4 and it was SPICY! I loved it, but if you are not a fan of spicy food, definitely use less
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 inch piece of ginger peeled and chopped
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/3 cup fish sauce
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 6 ounces rice noodles
- 5 large carrots julienned or grated
- 1 medium head napa cabbage shredded
- 1 large bunch cilantro chopped
- 1 cup green onion chopped
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and diced
For the dressing- place all ingredients in the bowl of a high powered blender or food processor and pulse until smooth.
For the chicken-bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. When the water reaches a rolling boil, gently add chicken breasts, cover pot with a fitted lid and remove from heat. Allow chicken to cook for approximately 30 minutes. Carefully remove chicken from the pot to a plate and allow it to cool before shredding with a fork (or fingers).
Pour a small amount of dressing onto the shredded chicken and gently mix. Store chicken in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
For the noodles-soak the rice noodles in a large bowl or pot of hot water (not boiling). Allow noodles to soak until softened BUT NOT SOGGY. Drain noodles and rinse with cold water.
In a large skillet heat a small amount of the dressing. Add drained rice noodles and stir-fry over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, mixing every 30 seconds or so. I also used kitchen scissors to cut through the noodles (making this a much easier salad to prepare and eat).
Add prepared vegetables and remaining dressing (to taste) to the noodles and mix well. Cook over medium low heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Finally, toss in the shredded chicken, mix and remove from heat.
Garnish with additional fresh chopped cilantro, green onion and mint.
Adapted from Pinch of Yum’s recipe of the same name (who I also have to thank for teaching me how to properly boil chicken 🙂