Friday, August 27, 2010

Vietnamese Cabbage Salad with Chicken--Goi Ba Bap Cai

This is a staple dish in our house.  It is also a fixture at potlucks at my wife's school because it is cheap, quick, healthful, and delicious.  Almost any time we have roast chicken, whether it's one I roast or a rotisserie chicken picked up at the supermarket, we have this the next day.  As neither Tjing, my wife, nor I are particularly fond of chicken breast, finding it generally to be rather dry and flavorless, this is a great way to use the meat.  While I prefer it with rau ram (daun laksa or Vietnamese coriander), mint is a perfectly acceptable substitute.  The dressing does not use oil and can be easily adjusted to different tastes.  When I make this for school potlucks, I am careful about not making it too spicy; teachers are such sensitive souls.

Some recipes call for using rice vinegar for the dressing; others use lime juice.  Personally, I prefer the latter.  The freshness of the lime makes the salad so much more lively and refreshing.  If you have some ground roasted peanuts or fried shallots on hand, a tablespoon or two make a nice addition on top of the salad.

Goi Ga Bap Cai--Chicken and Cabbage Salad

1 to 2 cups cooked chicken,  shredded
1/2 head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 cup julienned carrot
1/2 cup rau ram, or mint, or a combination of the two,  coarsely chopped or torn


2 cloves garlic, crushed to a paste in a mortar
1 to 2 red chilies, seeded and minced
2 TBS fish sauce
2 TBS lime juice
1 TBS water
1 TBS sugar, to taste (some prefer a sweeter dressing, others like more bite)
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

Combine ingredients for dressing and adjust to taste.

Combine salad ingredients.  Toss with dressing just before serving (if you dress the salad too soon the vegetables will lose their crispness and become limp).  Rice crackers (banh da) or shrimp crackers (banh phong tom or krupuk udang) make a nice accompaniment.

I am submitting this post to Delicious Vietnam, a monthly blogging event founded by Ravenous Couple and A Food Lover's Journey to celebrate and explore Vietnamese cuisine.   This month's host is Anh of A Food Lover's Journey.  To learn more about Delicious Vietnam and how you can participate, click here.


  1. so glad for you to join and great that you use the black sesame crackers, banh da..healthier then shrimp chips since you can microwave it!

  2. The black sesame crackers complement the salad, but they're rather tasteless on their own. The microwave does make them a quick snack.

  3. Oh, yum! This salad tastes awesome with rice porridge too :-) Reminds me of my grandma!

  4. This salad is awesome as a meal with some hot white rice. Great stuff!

  5. Cathy,
    Yes, this is just a good, family style salad, probably as common in Vietnamese households as macaroni and cheese is in American.

    Some macadamia coconut fudge ice cream (as in your latest post) would round out the meal nicely. Thanks for your comments.

  6. This is such a popular dish among the Vietnamese food lovers! I really like how you style this dish!

  7. I love the black sesame cracker. Do you use the rice paper with black sesame? I've seen them in the Asian shops, but am not sure how to use them.

  8. Anh,
    This is such a common dish I almost felt guilty about posting it. It is a delicious, refreshing salad though.

    I think they are tapioca sheets with black sesame. You can grill them, or even easier, pop them in the microwave for about half a minute until they puff and crisp. Times vary depending on the microwave, so you'll want to watch them to prevent burning.

  9. The cabbage and chicken sounds like an excellent lunch choice. Wonder if any resturants in Sacamento have it on their menu. However, I am one of those sensitive (soul) teachers who requires a modorate spice additive.


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