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.