I love crunchy salads that are packed with flavour and colour so this one is a real winner for me. I find the hot-salty-sour-bitter-sweet flavours of Vietnamese food absolutely irresistable and appreciate that Vietnamese food is also considered to be one of the healthiest cuisines on the planet. This is an easy dish and best of all, everything can be prepared ahead of time and assembled at the last minute for a nutritious, delicious lunch or dinner. I’ve made it with both chicken and shrimp and it’s equally delicious; it would probably be great with tender sliced beef as well. It’s also a perfect one-dish meal for summertime picnics – just be sure to keep the chicken or shrimp chilled with ice packs and add it to the salad at serving time.
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) white vinegar
- 4 cups (1 L) shredded Savoy or Napa cabbage
- 1/3 cup (90 mL) chopped mint (or more, to taste)
- 1/3 (90 mL) cup chopped cilantro (or more, to taste)
- 1 cup (250 mL) grated carrot
- 2 cups (500 mL) sliced English or Lebanese cucumber
- 3/4 cup (180 mL) chopped red pepper
- 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, grilled and sliced OR 2 cups (500 mL) medium shrimp, cooked, peeled and chilled
- 1/3 cup (90 mL) roasted cashews, chopped
- Lime wedges (garnish)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Asian chili paste (or more, to taste)
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) fish sauce
- 5 tablespoons (22 mL) white sugar
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) canola oil
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) sesame oil
- Put the red onion in a small bowl with ice water. Add the vinegar and let soak while you prepare other ingredients. This will take reduce the onion’s harshness.
- Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a jar with a tight lid. Shake well to blend.
- Combine the cabbage, drained red onions, mint and cilantro in a bowl. Pour ¼ of the dressing over top and toss to mix well.
- Put the cabbage mixture on a platter and top with carrot, cucumber, red pepper and sliced chicken. Drizzle enough dressing over top to coat well but not drench the salad.
- Top with cashews and serve, with lime wedges on the side.
Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as an appetizer.