Light and refreshing, Vietnamese Salad is one of our favorite weeknight meals. It includes lots of fresh vegetables and herbs. Top with chicken and/or shrimp. Spoon on the homemade nuoc nam sauce/dressing and enjoy!
Each time we make this Vietnamese Salad, we're like, why don't we make this more often?? It's fresh, simple, and delicious. It's extra refreshing on a hot day...of which we have many here in Hawaii.
Vietnamese Salad is also a great dish for large groups. It is an easy DIY dinner! Mix the "base" salad ingredients together (shredded green cabbage, shredded purple cabbage, and shredded carrots) in a big bowl.
Let everyone take as much of the salad base as they'd like, and then add the toppings. We offer mint leaves, homemade pickled onions, fried shallots, roasted peanuts, poached shrimp, and poached chicken.
*Note: if you add only chicken for the protein (instead of both chicken and shrimp), this is called Vietnamese Chicken Salad (Goi Ga).
I like to add all of the toppings. Some people like just some of the toppings. The nice part is that everyone can decide for themselves.
Then spoon on as much of the nuoc nam dressing as you'd like. Mix and enjoy!
Here's what you'll need:
- Green cabbage - shredded.
- Purple cabbage - shredded.
- Carrot - shredded.
- Mint leaves
- Pickled onions - or just plain onions, thinly sliced.
- Fried shallots
- Nuoc mam (fish sauce dipping sauce)
- Shrimp - poached until just cooked, then chilled (we fill a big bowl with ice, put the shrimp on top, and give it a very gentle mix), and butterflied once cooled.
- Chicken - poached, chilled (in an ice bath), and shredded.
See recipe card for quantities.
Let's get cooking ^_^
In a large mixing bowl, combine the shredded green cabbage, shredded purple cabbage, and shredded carrots. Mix well.
We usually use our hands (with disposable gloves) to do this. That's the best way to get it really well mixed.
Divide the salad mixture onto individual serving plates.
Top each plate with some torn mint leaves.
The add the pickled onions, peanuts, and fried shallots.
Then top the salad with the poached chicken and/or shrimp.
Serve the prepared salad with the nuoc mam sauce on the side. Let each person spoon as much nuoc mam as they would like over the salad.
Gently mix. Eat and enjoy!
Nuoc Mam Dipping Sauce / Dressing
Nuo Mam is also a dipping sauce/dressing made of fish sauce.
For this recipe, we are referring to the dipping sauce. Nuoc mam dipping sauce is made of fish sauce, water, vinegar, sugar, garlic, and chili pepper (optional).
We have a full recipe post for the dipping sauce here.
It's all at once sweet, sour, and savory. So delicious! Lots of raw garlic gives it extra oomph. And it is a key component in bringing this salad together.
Substitutions and Variations
Here are a few popular ideas:
- No purple cabbage? - No worries. You can use more green cabbage to make up for it. We love using purple cabbage because it adds both a different flavor and more color to the side. But just use more green cabbage if you don't have purple cabbage.
- No pickled onions? - You can easily make Vietnamese Pickled Onions (Hanh Dam) at home. But if you don't have time, you can jst use plain onions, thinly sliced. The thinner you can slice it, the better. We use a madoline.
- More or less of any ingredient - The best part of this salad is that the proportions are so flexible. Want more of any ingredient? Add it! Don't like a certain ingredient? Use a little less. I personally love mind heavy on the mint leaves, shallots, and nuoc mam sauce/dressing. My dad likes it with a little less dressing and with tons of cabbage. Everyone is different and there is no right or wrong way to balance this salad.
You can prepare the individual components is Vietnamese Salad ahead of time and that will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
But the prepare salad itself does not keep (especially if you've already added the nuoc mam dressing). Assemble and eat right away ^_^
Go heavy on all the toppings like fresh mint leaves, pickled onions, peanuts, and fried shallots. They might seem like small extra but they really bring this salad to life (and make this one of my favorite types of salads)!
The mint leaves add so much fresh flavor, pickled onions (or raw onions) add texture and punch. Peanuts give crunch and fried shallots are just a dream.
Goi Ga means Chicken Salad in Vietnamese.
This recipe is a Vietnamese Chicken Salad, but with the addition of shrimp. Why have just chicken when you can have both chicken and shrimp! Heheh.
If you omit the shrimp from this recipe, the dish is called Vietnamese Chicken Salad / Goi Ga.
When people say "Vietnamese dressing," they are referring to Nuoc Nam dipping sauce / dressing.
This is different from the bottled nuoc man fish sauce which you purchase in bottles.
The dressing is typically homemade because it is both easy to make and made from pantry ingredients: fish sauce, water, vinegar, sugar, garlic, and chili pepper (optional).
Here's our recipe for Vietnamese dressing aka Nuoc Nam dipping sauce / dressing.
Vietnamese Salad Recipe
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the shredded green cabbage, purple cabbage, and carrots. Mix well.
- Divide the salad mixture onto individual serving plates.
- Top each plate with the mint leaves, pickled onions, peanuts, and fried shallots.
- Then top with the chicken and/or shrimp.
- Serve the prepared salad with the nuoc mam sauce on the side. Let each person spoon as much nuoc mam as they would like over the salad. Gently mix. Eat and enjoy!
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these: