Recipe: Vietnamese Chicken Salad

This is what I had for supper tonight, though I only made a single serving, using a pan-seared chicken breast, and I shredded my own cabbage -- 1/4 head. Oh, and I didn't have sesame seeds. Still unbelievably tasty.

Reprinted by permission from 300 15 Minute Low Carb Recipes
by Dana Carpender copyright 2011 Fair Winds Press.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad
I tried making a really authentic Vietnamese Chicken Salad, and it was delicious – but it also took forever to make – including an hour and a half to poach a whole chicken! I was determined to streamline the process so you could enjoy this wonderful treat. Here it is!

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (0.5 kg)
1 pound pre-cooked chicken breast slices (0.5 kg)
6 cups bagged coleslaw mix (1.5 l)
4 scallions
1 batch Nuoc Cham (see below)
1 ruby red grapefruit
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (30 ml)
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (60 ml)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (60 ml)

If you’re starting with raw chicken breasts, you’ll want to start them cooking first. I do mine in my electric tabletop grill, for about 6 minutes, but you could saute them instead if you prefer. If sauteing them, you may want to take a minute to pound them thin so they cook through within our 15 minute time limit. If you’re really in a hurry, feel free to use pre-cooked chicken breast slices instead, although you’ll pay a premium for them.

Put the bagged coleslaw mix in a bowl, and slice the scallions into it. Make your Nuoc Cham – this is very quick to do – pour it over the cabbage, and toss well. Set aside.

Cut your grapefruit in half, and loosen the sections by running the tip of a knife around each one.

Put your sesame seeds in a small, dry skillet, and shake them over a high flame for about two minutes, or until they start to jump around in the pan and make popping sounds. Turn off the burner and set aside.

Okay, your chicken is ready now! If you’re using unsliced breasts, put them on a cutting board and slice them thin.

Now, toss the cabbage one more time to make sure the dressing is evenly distributed. Mound it on 4 serving plates. Top each serving with sliced chicken. Spoon 1/4 of the grapefruit sections around each portion. Scatter a tablespoon each of chopped mint and chopped cilantro over each serving (easier yet, use a kitchen shears to snip the herbs directly onto each serving), scatter a half a tablespoon of sesame seeds over each plate, and serve.

4 generous servings, each with 18 grams of carbohydrate, with 5 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 13 grams, virtually all of it from vegetables! 30 grams protein. Less than 250 calories!

Nuoc Cham
This sweet-tart-spicy dipping sauce is purely Vietnamese, and absolutely wonderful! Essential for the Vietnamese Lemon Chicken and the Vietnamese Chicken Salad, but once you try this you’ll think of all sorts of ways to use it.

2 tablespoons fish sauce (30 ml)
2 tablespoons lime juice (30 ml)
1 ½ teaspoons rice vinegar (7 ml)
3 tablespoons Splenda (50 ml)
½ teaspoon minced garlic (2 ml)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon chili garlic paste (5 ml)

Simply combine everything in a small dish.

4-5 servings. Assuming 4 servings, each will have 4 grams of carbohydrate, a trace of fiber, and a trace of protein. And approximately 15 metric boatloads of flavor!

NOTE: You can cut the carbs a bit by using half fish sauce, half soy sauce. I also have taken to using liquid Splenda for this, which cuts the carbs a little more.