Shredded Chicken and Cabbage Salad Dressed with Nuoc Nam

vietnamese chicken cabbage salad

Shredded Chicken and Cabbage Salad Dressed with Nuoc Nam
2 – 3 generous servings
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers
Vegetarian substitutes

This is my re-creation of the same dish served at Van’s, our favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Albany, NY. It’s another fantastic no-oil recipe to add to your collection. Yeah right, a delicious salad with no oil?  Seriously, trust me.  When you’ve got nuoc nam as the dressing, all you need is a garnish of chopped peanuts and you’re all set. We love this salad for spring and summer, it’s crunchy and satisfying with fresh, vibrant flavors. Even when Scott and I are the only two at the dinner table I always make a whole batch – leftovers make a great lunch the following day. You’ll probably end up with some extra nuoc nam, which is a good thing! It keeps very well in the fridge and you’ll no doubt find yummy uses for it, I mention a few ideas below.     ~ Susan

Ingredients – Nuoc Nam Sauce:

2 cloves garlic – minced
3 tablespoons sugar, sucanat or agave nectar
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
½ cup warm water
6 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy sauce)
optional – ½ teaspoon hot chile flakes or hot chile sauce, or a few slices of fresh hot chiles

Mix all sauce ingredients together until the sugar or sucanat is completely dissolved. Store in a jar in the fridge. This is a great marinade for meats, chicken, fish, shrimp, tofu….

Ingredients – For the salad:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts – each sliced in half to make 2 cutlets
4 cups very thinly sliced green cabbage (or buy pre-shredded cabbage in the grocery store)
½ cup fresh basil leaves – torn into bite size pieces
1 cup coarsely shredded or julienned carrots
½ cup thinly sliced red onions
1/4 cup finely chopped peanuts for garnish


Poach the chicken cutlets for a few minutes (no more than 5) or until just cooked throughout. Remove them from poaching water and set on a plate to cool to room temperature. You can save poaching water in the fridge or freezer to use as a future soup or sauce base.

When chicken is cooled, slice each cutlet in half to make two long strips, and shred the meat with your fingers.

Meanwhile assemble your other ingredients.

Place the cabbage, basil leaves, carrots and onions in a large mixing bowl.

Add shredded chicken.

Toss mixture with just enough nuoc nam sauce to flavor the dish to your liking. Let mixture sit for 10 minutes and stir once more.

Garnish each serving with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts.

Serving Suggestions:

This salad is great served atop a big lettuce leaf with a side of warm rice vermicelli simply seasoned with a little soy sauce (I use wheat-free tamari to keep it gluten-free). Or if you’ve got the time and inclination, summer rolls filled with sauteed mushrooms, cilantro and rice vermicelli are a great accompaniment too. Dip the rolls in nuoc nam or a little soy sauce mixed with fresh lime juice.

Vegetarian Substitutes:

Shredded seitan would work instead of chicken. And you can substitute soy sauce for the fish sauce.

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