I wish everyone reading this post could jump through the screen and taste this Vietnamese Shredded Chicken + Noodle Salad! It is bursting with bright colors + savory flavors + sundry textures. I am scarfing down another heaping helping right now. It’s a good thing I am writing and not talking because my mouth is full and NO ONE wants to see that.
I was craving this Vietnamese Shredded Chicken + Noodle Salad as I wanted to make something substantial yet light. This salad nails both of those qualifiers. The chicken adds a lot of substance, as do the noodles, while the vinegar-based dressing keeps it bright. (Excuse me while I wipe the drool from my chin.) This was also a great opportunity to thin the jungle of mint and cilantro growing in my pots.
I also wanted something quick + easy that wouldn’t heat up the kitchen. I swung by the market where the rotisserie chicken magically appears, cooked and glistening in the delicatessen window. No hot oven at home! But by all means bake or boil your own bird. I will not be offended by your choices.
About fish sauce (nuó’c mam): you either love it or hate it. Its color is rich and its flavor pungent. That acrid smell comes from cured anchovies which are credited for the sauce’s savory depth of flavor. If you use a high quality fish sauce, the acrid aroma should mellow but the delicious umami should linger. I take my fish sauce in small doses. I like its depth, once I get over its funk. Ironically, one of my favorite sauces is worcestershire which is also made from fermented anchovies. The things you know. If you do not love fish sauce, you may sub soy sauce.
About cilantro: you either love it or hate it. I hear it’s a genetic thing. You either have the physiological affinity or you don’t. I am Team Cilantro. I cannot get enough of it. But if it is not your thing—and about 50% of people would agree with you—simply leave it out of the recipe. There is a wholelotta other stuff in this salad to make your tastebuds happy such as the fresh mint.
About the hot chili peppers: Let’s talk chili peppers for just a sec, as they are an integral ingredient for this recipe. Yet another bonus of this Vietnamese Shredded Chicken + Noodle Salad is controlling the intensity of heat. I like serranos because they are hot but will not set your esophagus on fire. For long, anyway. On the Scoville scale they are 10,000 to 23,000, whatever that means. (Thank you, Wikipedia.) They are a little hotter than jalapeños, but not quite as piquant as Thai chilis (bird’s eye chilis). Bird’s eye chilis measure around 50,000 to 100,000 on the Scoville.
Let me put it to you this way…on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the hottest, jalapeños are a 2, serranos are a 3, and bird’s eyes are a 4. Got it? In case you are wondering, habaneros are a 5.
Once you have chosen your chili pepper, another way to control the heat is to choose how you are going to use it.
- Removing the seeds and membranes (supposedly where the heat is hiding) will reduce the piquancy. Use a spoon to do this.
- If you like some heat, leave the seeds in the peppers. Shaking the pepper in your salad dressing will release some of the pepper’s delicious oil. Strain the pepper if you want the heat to stop there.
- Finally—and this is the way I like it—leave the chili in. Then when you dress the salad, someone will get the peppers as a bonus. Or dole them out if you think your guests will fight over them. (This has happened.)
But always always wear gloves when working with peppers. The oil in the pepper sticks to you, even after you wash. It will irritate your hands and ANYTHING YOU TOUCH, such as your eyes, your nose, or other mucus membranes. I cannot stress this enough. It will only take you one or two times (depending on your learning curve) to understand what I mean.
In case you did not heed my advice and you are writhing on the floor in pain, thekitchn.com recommends using olive oil to stop the burning. I haven’t tried oil. Let me know if it does the trick.
This recipe makes 2 servings (if you eat like The Man and I do) or 4 servings for people who have decorum. Omit the chicken to make a delicious vegetarian meal.
I am confident you will gorge yourself on this Vietnamese Shredded Chicken + Noodle Salad. It pairs nicely with a chilled Gewurztraminer or bubbles, of course.
Chúc ngon miệng!
If you make this Vietnamese Shredded Chicken + Noodle Salad, I’d love to hear about it! Leave your comments below and tag #nakedepicurean on Instagram so we can celebrate together!
Vietnamese Shredded Chicken + Noodle Salad (for 2-4)
for the dressing
- 6 tablespoons lime juice
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ¼ cup Sriracha
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy sauce)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 teaspoons garlic paste or 4 cloves, minced
- 1 red or green serrano, sliced
for the salad
- 1 rotisserie chicken, deboned
- 6 ounces brown rice noodles
- 1 cup of matchstick carrots
- 1 big handful of napa cabbage (several leaves), chopped
- 4 green onions, sliced
- 1 sweet red bell pepper, julienned
- ½ cup cilantro leaves, coarsely torn or chopped
- ½ cup mint leaves, coarsely torn or chopped
- ½ cup peanuts, coarsely chopped
1. Break the rice noodles in half. Place them in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak the noodles for 3-5 minutes, or until they soften to your liking. Drain.
2. While noodles are soaking, pulse first 8 dressing ingredients in a food processor until smooth and sugar has dissolved. Add serrano pepper and give the dressing a swirl.
3. Toss the chicken, noodles, vegetables, and dressing together. Top with peanuts. Serve immediately.