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Friday, September 11, 2009

If Martha were Vietnamese-- Goi Ga

This is a Vietnamese salad that I've tried several recipes for. Several past attempts were good, but obviously not good enough to stick around. This one finally was good enough to put in my recipe book. So delicious and as good as I dared hoped! Definitely good enough to share with your non-adventurous eating friends. We KNOW who you are by the way! We all really liked it cause it was moist and the dressing was a great combination of sweet, vinegary, and tangy. I LOVE fresh mint in anything, and the peanuts are the perfect topping. I'm pretty sure that Napa cabbage isn't at all Vietnamese, but I really like it and think it's just perfect here. For an afternoon brunch, or with girlfriends, or dinner on a hot night, this is a great recipe to have.

Start with 1 lb or 2c of shredded chicken. I used a big breast and huge thigh 'cause Papa prefers dark meat, and we had to compromise least we break into an argument right there in front of the butcher. I boiled the chicken about 20 minutes, (and saved the broth for another recipe) and think this helped preserve the moisture in the chicken. After it cooled, I de-boned and shredded it into long thin pieces with my fingers.

Wait! Stop cooking! Stop for a moment and admire my wonderful gift! I always recommend stopping for gifts! A dollar bill pinkie ring hand crafted by Boo just for me! Isn't it lovely! And a perfect fit! Lucky mama!

Combine the ingredients for the sauce/dressing, and make sure the sugar gets totally dissolved. Add the onions to the sauce mix to coat them, and set this aside for 20-30 to "marinade" the onions in sauce. The recipe didn't state what kind of onion, but I've really been into red onions lately. First I think the red and pink look pretty in the greens of the salad, (that sure was an uncharacteristically girly thing for me to say!) but mostly the extra little crunch and sweetness of red onions is really good in this salad. Sliced really thinly. If there's one thing that makes the recipe, I'd say it is these marinaded onions.

Coarsely chop the cabbage, mint, and rau ram . Livy wanted a pic too! What? What's rau ram you ask? Silly Americans!

Lets pause a minute and talk about rau ram. At this point I should go into a lengthy lesson about this leafy green. But keeping it real... I didn't have a clue what it was or what it looked like. But if your shopping in the Asian grocery, just start looking for it in the produce section with all the other leafy green stuff. Amazingly, I was able to find it pretty easily, not because of my culinary prowess, but because the signs were clearly labeled. It looks like a flat, non-shiny leaf, that to me looks like overgrown watercress. It's not essential to the salad, but I LOVED the flavor. That plus the fact that I felt like I knew .00005% more about Asian produce more than I did the moment before I walked in! So if you do find it, and someone comments they like your salad, you can causally drop in that it must be the rau ram, like you know what your talking about. Just pretend you can pronounce it like I do. They'll never be the wiser and will be impressed with your vast culinary knowledge.

For all I know, the Asian produce boy may have seen the out-of-place Caucasian lady coming and switched all the signs around cause he was bored that day. It's possible. I do walk around the Asian grocery sticking out like a Hyundai in Scottsdale.

Put it all in the bowl and toss.
Oh, one more helpful hit... the Asian grocery also sells those carrots already shredded by the lb. Tooo easy.
Mount a pile on your plate, top with peanuts and mmmmmmm...

Up soon-- fried pork spring rolls and siblings.

Goi Ga (Chicken and Cabbage Salad with Fresh Mint)- Adapted from Quick & Easy Vietnamese by Nancie McDermott

1 lb boneless chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • 3 T freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 T fish sauce
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/2 t white pepper
3/4 c thinnly sliced red onions
1/2 c fresh mint
1/2 c rau ram leaves (optional)
2 c shredded napa cabbage
1/4 c shredded carrott
3 T coarsly chopped roasted peanuts


  1. this looks *amazing* !!

    and the little glimpses of your kitchen and pots and pans make me want to cook there.

    and ps. is that fiestaware?

  2. Sorry to chime in this late but from the picture you provided, it is not "rau ram." Rau ram should look like this

  3. Lan- Oh THANK YOU for the correction. It's been so long ago now, that I'm not sure where I got that into. Whatever it was, it was tasty!
    Are you saying that Rau ram is just Vietnamese mint?
    Always trying to learn,


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