Fresh Vietnamese Chicken Cabbage Salad – Goi Ga Bap Cai
This recipe is a really easy one although it does take a bit of time to prepare. It’s a personal favorite that I often make, eaten by itself or with rice and little sriracha (Asian hot sauce). I love spicy food, so anything that I can slather with hot sauce is good in my book.
Ingredients for Filling:
1 lb chicken breast (boiled and shredded)
1 head of cabbage (thinly shredded)
1 yellow or red onion (optional – this can be left out if you are breath conscious or just don’t like onions)
1 bunch cilantro (roughly chopped) or fresh mint if you prefer
2-3 medium carrots (julienned)
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
*you can always add a little bit of minced jalapeno for a kick!
2 tsp Sugar (adjust to taste)
1 tsp Black Pepper (adjust to taste)
1 tsp Salt (adjust to taste)
I would try this recipe without chicken for our vegetarian friends. Maybe with a little tofu added on top. I don’t think that there is a good replacement for chicken in this recipe so I would just leave it out.
1 Large Bowl
2-3 medium bowls
Cheese Cloth (or kitchen towel)
Preparing the Chicken: First thing that you should do is boil the chicken (you can also use roasted or steamed chicken for this recipe). This usually takes around 20 minutes. Make sure to check the doneness of the chicken after you take it out of the water by cutting it in half. Let it cool for 5-10 minutes and then shredded using your hands or 2 forks. I was always taught that the thinner you can get the shredded chicken the better, but you can shred to the size you like. Once the chicken is shredded add to the large bowl with the cabbage.
Preparing the Cabbage: While the chicken is boiling, get to work on the cabbage as it will need to sit for a good amount of time (about the time it would take the boil the chicken). Shredded the cabbage but using your chef’s knife and cutting into very thin strips (the thinner the better). Put the shredded cabbage in strainer with a bowl underneath and cover with a generous amount of salt (the salt will eventually be washed off so don’t worry about over doing it). The salt will help to wilt the cabbage and take some of the bitter flavor out of the vegetable. Let the cabbage sit until it is softened wilted.
Once wilted, rinse the cabbage well in cold water. In small batches, ring out the cabbage using the cheese cloth to remove as much water as possible. Put the dried cabbage aside in the large bowl.
Preparing the Carrots and Onions: Peel and wash the carrots. Julienne the carrots and place in a bowl. Add half of the white vinegar and sugar (make sure the carrots are covered with the liquid. Slice the onion as thinly as you can and place in a bowl with the remaining white vinegar and sugar. You can always add more vinegar to cover the veggies or a little bit of cold water if you run out of white vinegar.
Drain the carrots and onions after allowing them to sit for 10-15 minutes or so. Reserve the vinegar for the dressing on the salad. Add the carrots and onions to the large bowl with the cabbage and chicken.
Preparing the Salad: Pour a small amount of the reserved vinegar into the salad about 2 Tbsp to start. You can always add more as you go along if you feel like you can’t taste the vinegar that well. Add the sugar, salt, and black pepper. Mix well and add more of the spices to taste (I would go easy on the salt considering that the cabbage was already pickled with salt before being added to the salad.
Note: This is a very simple version of the Vietnamese chicken salad recipe which reflects the central region of Vietnam. There are a lot of other great dressings that you can use for this same salad with a little more kick. I will try to get a few of those if you are looking for something new to try.
Sorry, this is not a freezable recipe. For storing in the fridge, I would make sure to eat it up within about 3-4 days of making it so it doesn’t go bad.