This Vietnamese chicken salad is one of the favourites at Wickedfood cooking school’s Vietnamese cooking class as well as our Asian cooking classes. Vietnamese cuisine is considered by many as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. This chicken salad demonstrates that perfectly. Although the ingredients list might seem rather long, don’t be put off, it is a quick salads to make, and remember to serve it immediately.
1 x 1.5-2kg chicken
1 onion, quartered
2 kaffir lime leaves or bay leaves
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded, then cut into long strips
2T sesame seeds
3 stalks celery, cut into long fine strips
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into long fine strips
¼ crisp white cabbage, thinly shredded
a large handful fresh whole coriander leaves
a large handful fresh whole mint leaves
4-6 whole lettuce leaves, such as Little Gem or Cos
1 garlic clove
1 small red chilli
3T caster sugar
2T lime juice
3T fish sauce
- Put the chicken into a large deep pan, together with the other ingredients, and cover with water. Bring to a gentle boil, cover the pot and simmer on very low for 20 minutes. Allow to cool in the liquid.
- Once cool, take the chicken out, discard the skin, pull the flesh off the bones and tear into bite-sized pieces. Place in a bowl and set aside. (Strain and save the poaching liquid and use it as stock for another dish.)
- Put the cucumber into a clean bowl with the teaspoon of salt. Mix well and set aside for ten minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the sesame seeds into a small frying pan over a moderate heat (don’t add oil) and dry-fry until they turn a shade darker, then take them off the heat and transfer immediately to a cool plate to prevent burning .
- Once the cucumber has been salting for ten minutes, use your hands to squeeze out any excess liquid from the cucumber. Discard the liquid and transfer the cucumber to a large bowl.
- Add the celery, carrots and cabbage, together with the chicken.
- Peel and roughly chop the garlic then place in a mortar and pestle.
- Deseed and roughly chop the chilli and add to the garlic.
- Add half of the sugar and pound to a rough paste. Add the rest of the sugar and pound again.
- Add the lime juice and fish sauce to the paste, mix well, then add a splash of cold water. Taste and adjust the flavours if necessary (you should have a good balance between sweet, salty and sour.)
- Toss the salad with enough of the dressing to give a lively flavour, starting with about two-thirds of the dressing and adding more if necessary. Add half the mint and coriander leaves and mix thoroughly.
- Line a serving plate with the lettuce leaves. Pile the salad onto the lettuce, then top with the remaining coriander, mint and toasted sesame seeds. Serve swiftly.
Wickedfood Cooking School runs cooking classes throughout the year at its purpose-built cooking studios. Classes are run in the mornings and evenings 7 days a week (subject to a minimum of 12 people). The venue is also popular for corporate events and private functions – team building cooking classes, birthdays, kitchen teas, and dinner parties with a difference.
Our classes are hands-on, where every person gets to participate in the preparation of the dishes. They are also a lot of fun where you not only learn new skills, but get to meet people with similar interests. For corporate groups and teambuilding cooking classes these events are a novel way of creating staff interaction or entertaining clients.