Vietnamese salads are typically fresh and light, combining sweet, spicy and sour elements with fragrant herbs and crunchy toppings. The classic Vietnamese chicken salad (gi gà) has long been an Australian favourite and here we share Luke Nguyen’s version, inspired by his travels along the coastal regions of Vietnam, in particular Nha Trang, where both fresh and dried jellyfish are used widely in cooking. Although jellyfish does not have a strong flavour, it is prized for its texture and adds complexity to dishes.
- 2 (about 600 g) chicken breasts, trimmed
- 1 L (4 cups) chicken stock
- 60 g (⅓ cup) chopped dried jellyfish (see Note) (optional)
- 4 leaves Chinese cabbage, thinly shredded
- ½ cup perilla (shiso) leaves (see Note), roughly chopped
- ¼ cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
- 10 hot (Vietnamese) mint leaves (see Note), roughly chopped
- 2 tsp fried garlic (see Note)
- 2 tsp glutinous rice (see Note), toasted, ground
- 2 tsp garlic oil or vegetable oil
- ½ red onion, sliced into rings
- roasted crushed peanuts, fried Asian eschalots (see Note), and thinly sliced red bird's-eye chillies, to serve
Nuoc mam cham dressing
- 60 ml (¼ cup) fish sauce
- 60 ml (¼ cup) white vinegar
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 red bird's-eye chilli, thinly sliced
- 2 limes, juiced
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Drink match 2012 Melva Watervale Riesling by KT, Clare Valley, SA ($29)
Place chicken and stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 25 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove chicken from stock and cool. Leftover stock may be reserved for another use – strain, allow to cool, then refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Meanwhile, to make dressing, place fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and 125 ml water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar, then bring just to the boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. The dressing at this point will keep in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge for up to 5 days. Makes about 1 cup.
Rinse jellyfish under cold running water for 30 seconds and place in a large bowl. Using two forks, shred chicken and add to jellyfish with cabbage, herbs, fried garlic, toasted rice, garlic oil and onion. Toss gently to combine. Stir garlic, chilli and lime juice into dressing mixture, then drizzle 80 ml over salad, tossing gently to combine. Transfer to a serving plate, drizzle another 2 tbsp dressing over salad, then serve scattered with peanuts, fried eschalots and chillies.
• Dried jellyfish, sold in vacuum-sealed packs, perilla leaves, hot (Vietnamese) mint, fried garlic and glutinous rice are available from Asian food shops.
• Fried Asian eschalots are available from select supermarkets and Asian food shops.
Photography Alan Benson