This simple assembly of everyday ingredients produces a marvelously refreshing dish. The signature Vietnamese herb called rou rom is a perfect complement for the chicken and other seasonings, but fresh mint is lovely if you don’t have rou rom. In Vietnam this salad, goi go, is traditionally served with mien go, a nourishing chicken dish made with the broth created by poaching chicken for this salad. Mien means “noodles,” referring to the clear tangle of bean thread noodles that fortify the soup. The goi ga-mien go combination is inspired—a cool, bright-flavored salad paired with a warm, satisfying soupy dish, putting the broth from one to deliciously good use in the other.
- 1 pound boneless chicken breasts, or 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar, or freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¾ cup very thinly sliced onion
- ½ cup fresh mint, cilantro, or basil leaves
- ½ cup rau rom leaves, (optional)
- 2 cups finely shredded green, savoy, or napa cabbage
- ¾ cup shredded carrots
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped roasted and salted peanuts (optional)
Put the chicken in a medium saucepan and add 2 to 3 cups of water, enough to cover the chicken by about ½ inch. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to maintain a lively simmer, and cook until done, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the lime juice, fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, and pepper in a medium bowl, and stir to dissolve the sugar and mix everything well. Add the onion and toss to coat. Set aside for 20 to 30 minutes, until you are ready to complete the dish.
Transfer the meat to a plate to cool, reserving the broth for another use, such as making soup or cooking rice. When the chicken is cool, tear it into long, thin shreds. Coarsely chop the mint and the rau ram, if you are using it. Add the shredded chicken, cabbage, carrots, mint, and rau ram to the bowl of onions and seasonings and toss to coat everything well. Mound the salad on a serving plate and top with chopped peanuts, if you are using them. Serve at room temperature or chilled.