Well, just as I was getting excited for a nice cool autumn, we woke up to an October heatwave! We are supposed to hit a high in the 80’s today! I was glad for the sunshine after so much rain, but this is a little too summery. So much for sweater weather! In fact, these warmer days have me craving cold dishes and raw veggies all over again, while I was just gearing up for stews and braises. This cold salad uses a very seasonal veggie–cabbage–as it’s base, which keeps things nice and cheap. While rice noodles aren’t the most expensive ingredient out there, they do cost more than cabbage! By switching the ratio of cabbage and noodles, I was able to stretch this salad even farther. The neutral flavor of cabbage is just perfect to support the strong flavors of the other ingredients. And crunchy cabbage + chewy rice noodle = my perfect bite!
I tend to be one of those people who makes too much food. Usually, it works out in my favor, since I almost always bring dinner leftovers for lunch the next day. This salad is no exception, I will gladly admit. It also keeps in the fridge for 4 or 5 days, so it is a perfect dish to make for lunches to last through the work week. More than once over the summer, I did exactly that. (Although I had to forgo the peanuts during summer–no nut products at camp! It was still extremely delicious without them, though I do prefer that bit of extra crunch and salt.) But, peanuts or no, or even with chicken or without, I never grew tired of this hearty, filling salad.
Cabbage & Noodle Chicken Thai Salad
Serves: 4-6 | Prep time: 20 min | Cook time: 25 min
For the Salad
- 1/4 of a small head of red cabbage
- 1/2 of a small head of green cabbage
- 2-3 carrots (or 1 c. shredded carrots)
- 1 small red onion
- 4 scallions
- 1 loose handful of mint leaves
- 1 loose handful of thai basil leaves
- 1 loose handful cilantro leaves
- 8 oz thin rice noodles
- 1/2 lb. (8 oz) chicken breasts (optional)
For the Dressing:
- 1/3 c. fish sauce
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1/4 c. lime juice
- 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
- 2-3 tsp. sriracha (or to preferred heat level)
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 4-5 Tbsp. olive oil
- 4-6 Tbsp. chopped peanuts (optional)
Submerge the chicken into a small pot of water. Bring to a boil on the stove, then turn down to the lowest setting to simmer, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes. The chicken is done when the meat is not longer pink inside (since we will be shredding it, feel free to fish out a piece and cut entirely in half to check). Once cooked, drain and set aside to cool.
Prepare the rice noodles according to the package, but drop one minute off of the cooking time or two minutes off of the soaking time. Once done, drain, then rinse the noodles in cold water.
While the chicken and noodles are cooking, whisk the listed dressing ingredients (fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sriracha, garlic powder, olive oil) until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has emulsified into a smooth mixture.
Shred the cabbage by slicing it as thinly as possible. If using whole carrots: peel the carrots and discard the peelings. Then use the vegetable peeler to continue to peel the carrot into long strips. Use a knife to cut the wide strips into thinner pieces. Peel and quarter the red onion, then slice thinly. Chop the scallions into thin slices, then chop all the herbs. Add all vegetables and herbs to a large bowl.
Shred the cooled chicken, then add 1 tablespoon of the sauce, mixing to coat all of the pieces. Add the chicken to the vegetables.
Heat a wok over high heat, then add 2 tablespoon of the sauce and the rice noodles. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour the remaining sauce over the vegetable mixture in the bowl, add the hot noodles and mix/toss with tongs until the salad is completely mixed together.
Served topped with a tablespoon of chopped peanuts sprinkled over each bowl. This will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.