Sensational Salads: Goi Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Salad)
Peter and I enjoyed a three day weekend in Melbourne in 2010 and our indulgences included frequenting a Vietnamese restaurant that served a deliciously fresh Goi Ga (chicken salad). We liked it so much that we returned to the crowded little place on three occasions for lunch or dinner. The choice of REALLY good Vietnamese restaurants in our home city is quite limited, you see.
As soon as we arrived home, I consulted my Vietnamese Cookery Bible, Pauline Nguyen's Secrets of the Red Lantern, and have developed and adapted my own recipe loosely based on one in that book. I believe it meets the criteria for a sensational salad. What do you think?
GOI GA (VIETNAMESE CHICKEN SALAD)
For the salad:
500g chicken fillet (breast or tenderloin)
1/2 a small wombok, finely shredded
1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup coriander leaves
a few Vietnamese mint leaves, torn (optional)
1/2 cup bean sprouts, tails removed, rinsed and drained well
1 small carrot, peeled and julienned*
1 small Lebanese cucumber, julienned*
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped, for garnish
a few coriander leaves extra, for garnish
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 tablespoons raw sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
1 small chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
First gently poach the chicken. Allow it to cool. Drain and chill it in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Combine the prepared wombok, mint and coriander leaves, bean sprouts, julienned carrot and cucumber in a salad bowl. Shred the chicken and arrange it through the salad.
Make the dressing: combine the fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and water in a small saucepan over a medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. You can chill the dressing at this point for a really refreshing point of difference. Just before you are ready to serve the salad, add the finely chopped garlic, chilli and lime juice to the dressing. Taste and adjust the flavours to suit your palate.
To finish, sprinkle the dressing liberally over the salad immediately before serving. Garnish with the chopped roasted peanuts and additional mint and coriander leaves. Serves 2-4 as a light lunch or light main meal (dependent on your appetite). Cover and refrigerate any leftovers immediately and enjoy the next day.
*I use the side julienne notch on my fabulous Titan peeler. It works brilliantly. You may have a similar peeler.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.