If you are after a salad that is healthy, zingy, super tasty, fresh AND will feed a crowd, then my Vietnamese chicken and cabbage salad with a nuoc cham dressing works a treat.
Much of the salad can be prepped in advance and it is far easier to prepare than you would think if you have a magi-mix as it can do all the slicing (other than the chicken) easily and efficiently.
The three herbs that I like to use to give it a delicious freshness is mint, coriander and Thai basil (you can easily pick this up in large supermarkets these days). The addition of peanuts and fried shallots (you can have these ready made too to save time) really adds to the textures and flavours.
Vietnamese Chicken Salad
1/2 white cabbage, finely chopped
1/2 red cabbage, finely chopped
7 carrots, peeled and finely grated (you can do this in the magi-mix too on the grater setting)
6 chicken breasts, skin removed
3 large handfuls of coriander, finely chopped
2 handfuls of fresh mint, finely chopped
2 handfuls of fresh Thai basil, finely chopped
2 handfuls of unsalted peanuts
2 handfuls of crispy fried shallots (to save time buy these already made)
Nuoc Cham Dressing
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1-2 limes, freshly squeezed
1 heaped tbsp caster sugar
1/2 red chilli, finely chopped (keep seeds in if you want more heat)
- If you have a magi-mix place your attachment, which has the thinnest slicer, and slice the red cabbage and white cabbage. If you do not, then you need to do this by hand.
- Next change the attachment to the grater and grate the carrots. If you do not have this you can do this with a regular grater.
- Place the chicken breasts whole into a deep pan and cover with water and bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken breasts and allow to cool and then use two forks to shred finely. Place to one side in bowl.
- Next finely chop the coriander, mint and Thai basil.
- Heat a frying pan and when it is hot add the peanuts and allow to bronze slightly – this will take around 3 -4 minutes. Keep moving around the pan so that they don’t burn. Once lightly bronzed remove and place to one side.
- If you are preparing the shallots from scratch – instead of bought fried shallots – simply finely slice them and then shallow fry them in sunflower or vegetable oil until bronzed. Remove from the pan and place on kitchen paper.
- Next you want to make the ‘nuoc cham dressing’. The trick is to add all the ingredients to a pan and warm up so that the sugar has completely dissolved. It is important to taste test so that you have a good balance of salty, sweet, zingy and sweet. If it is too salty from the fish sauce add a little more caster sugar. If you find it too chilli hot, strain the dressing and therefore remove the chillies.
- You can prepare all of this a day in advance and keep in the fridge (minus the shallots, which can be kept in a sealed jar). IT IS IMPORTANT NOT TO ADD THE DRESSING UNTIL JUST BEFORE SERVING.
- When you are ready to serve add a little of the dressing to the chicken and mix in to soften and flavour the chicken.
- Next use a mixing bowl and add a little of every ingredient and a little of the dressing and mix well before repeating the process. Make sure you keep back some of the shallots to scatter on the top along with a little of all the herbs.
- Serve on a large platter so guests/family can help themselves. It also looks rather lovely presented in this way.
- Best eaten at room temperature.
Any leftovers will keep in the fridge easily for a few days. If you want to feed more then use the whole cabbage, add a few extra chicken breasts, add an extra handful of herbs and double up on the dressing.