Vietnamese Chicken Salad (Goi Ga) is an easily prepared cabbage salad, made with rotisserie chicken and lots of herbs, topped with peanuts and fried shallots, and dressed with a sweet and tart dressing. I’ve been addicted to this for about 30 years!
There is hardly a better summer salad than Goi Ga, better known as Vietnamese chicken salad.
For as long as I’ve been devouring Vietnamese food, I’ve been craving this authentic Vietnamese chicken salad.
I order it winter or summer, but I always order it. Unless of course I make my own.
This is a super simple salad to make and is easily made with store bought rotisserie chicken, which is what I used last night.
Ordinarily poached chicken breasts are used, but not heating up the kitchen has its own rewards; especially when one has a home with just a swamp cooler and no ac.
Not complaining, because in general it works very well. And wouldn’t you know, today’s weather in Denver may as well be fall. Baby, it’s chilly outside!
What’s in Vietnamese Chicken Salad or Goi Ga?
Vietnamese chicken salad is filled with the flavor of herbs.
Mint, basil and cilantro to be exact.
No lettuce greens in this, but crunchy cabbage that I also buy at the grocery in bags labeled angel hair cabbage. I said this salad was easy and I wasn’t joking!
Throw in some shredded carrots which I guess I could have bought too, but didn’t. I actually shredded them myself!
I buy these for a few bucks at an Asian market and they thaw almost immediately. They give great flavor and crunch to this salad.
If you don’t have them, feel free to substitute the fried onion rings in a can-just make sure they are in tiny pieces!
Now let’s look at the dressing. Nuoc Cham is traditionally used, which is a very common dipping sauce in Vietnam.
This is the sauce that Vietnamese egg rolls are dipped into as well as soft shell crab or anything fried.
It is also a dressing for this salad and many others. You will love it.
Tasting tart from fresh lime juice and sweet from sugar and sweet chili sauce, lots of fresh garlic and a touch of chili flakes, I think it was this sauce that made me fall in love with Vietnamese food.
Fish sauce is a main ingredient of nuoc cham and it’s also the salty element of the sauce. Kind of like soy sauce is to Japanese or Chinese cuisine, fish sauce is to Vietnamese.
There are many varieties of fish sauce and just like any food, some are better than others.
If you are new to fish sauce make sure to buy fish sauce from the country your recipe hails from. In other words I find Thai fish sauce tastes different than Vietnamese fish sauce.
Every country seems to have its own nuance and that comes to all products I buy.
If I were to choose my favorite ethnic food, Vietnamese would be it, without a doubt.
Shrimp Chips (How To Cook Them)
I love serving this traditional Vietnamese chicken salad with shrimp chips, just as they do in the restaurant we visit. For some reason I had a hard time finding them in the Asian market.
They didn’t seem to be anywhere where I was looking.
Finally Alex picked up 5 boxes in Vietnam and brought them home to me. Turns out they are sold in small boxes, and are not fried. It is you that does the frying!
However I have figured out a way to avoid that. Just spray the chips with cooking spray, place on a paper plate, cover with another paper plate and heat for 45 seconds.
These made wonderful, airy, crispy chips. And no muss, no fuss!
He came home with cuttlefish, shrimp and fish chips-you name it! To be honest, I hate frying so I thought I would try them in the microwave. I did this with poppadoms once and it worked!
Shrimp chips don’t really taste like shrimp. Well, I didn’t notice. But the crisp texture really adds to the dish. And after they sit soaking in the sauce, they are so good!
Perfect to place a few bites of chicken salad on! I did try weighting them to see if they would come out flat, but they still formed a cute little cup. If you can find them, try them. Kind of like a Vietnamese tortilla chip!
I did find a new brand (Sa Giang) since writing this post in 2017 that cook up really well. I will use these from now on!
If you’ve never tried Vietnamese food, what’s stopping you?
I must admit to not being a lover of pho which seems to be competing with ramen lately. I do love a chicken pho, but the beef escapes me. Perhaps it is because I don’t eat beef?
Love the noodles though! And if pho is all you know, you are off to a good start.
But then again there are banh mi’s, which are starting to appear everywhere. These Vietnamese sandwiches on French baguettes filled with pickled veggies, jalapenos and cilantro can be found stuffed with everything from pate to grilled pork and chicken.
We find them for about $4 and feel like we are robbing someone! Check out a good Vietnamese restaurant. You won’t be disappointed!
And if there are not any around you, I have some of my favorites listed below!
More To Try:
Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup
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Vietnamese Chicken Salad or “Goi Ga” is an easily prepared cabbage salad, made with rotisserie chicken and lots of herbs, topped with peanuts and fried shallots, and dressed with a sweet and tart spicy dressing.
1 bag Angel Hair Cole Slaw or about 3–4 c shredded cabbage
2 carrots-shredded (I prefer to grate my own rather than using the bagged. They are sweeter and more moist this way.)
1/2 of a Bermuda onion sliced very thin
1/4 c chopped cilantro
1/4 c small mint leaves
1/4 c fresh basil leaves (If you have Thai basil, so much the better!)
Rotisserie Chicken (I used both breasts and tore them into shreds. No chopping!)
4 T coarsely chopped peanuts
3 T fried shallots
1/4 c freshly squeezed lime juice
1–2 minced garlic cloves
3 T fish sauce (I use Three Crabs. There is a huge taste difference from one brand to another.)
4 T water
4 T sugar
1/4 t red chili flakes
1 T sweet chili sauce (Mae Ploy)
Shrimp Chips (I prefer 3 Ladies)
Make the Nuoc Cham. Combine all ingredients and stir until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, carrots, onion, and half of the cilantro, mint and basil. Top with torn chicken and sprinkle with the rest of the herbs, peanuts and shallots.
I serve the nuoc cham separately so that each diner can dress the salad the way they prefer. I also serve this with fried shrimp chips as they do in the restaurant we visit. Pile a big bite of salad on each shrimp chip, add a spoonful of nuoc cham and eat! (See above)
Keywords: Vietnamese Chicken Salad, Recipe for Vietnamese Chicken Salad, Vietnamese Chicken Salad Recipe, Vietnamese Chicken Salad Dressing, Goi Ga, Vietnamese Chicken Salad Cabbage, Authentic Vietnamese Chicken Salad, Traditional Vietnamese Chicken Salad, Rotisserie Chicken Salad