Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Sunday I tasked myself with sitting down and actually engaging in some menu planning.  To think about the coming week, who was going to be where, when dinner would be eaten, and what to make.  So the plan looked like this:

And I made a shopping list from that, and thus went to DeCicco's determined to stick to the list, the whole list, and nothing but the list. No buying on hope or impulse or "well maybe..." The plan is the plan, the plan shall be the plan, we shall stick to the plan.

Anyway, that was the plan, and so far so good. As planned, we had skirt steak last night with roasted potatoes and asparagus.  Delicious as always, and as always a nice piece of steak left over for my lunch today.

Tonight's plan was the Vietnamese Chicken Salad recipe I'd seen in Martha Stewart Living, with a few cleverly thought-out improvements to save time—one being that I bought a rotisserie chicken to use instead of poaching my own.

Then I remembered that Redman's swimming lessons had been changed to Monday nights, and part and parcel of swim lessons is going to eat afterward at Red Rooster. Jeeps said he'd wait to eat back at home, then he suddenly remembered that tonight was camp registration night and he might as well go directly there from swimming, so he might as well eat at the Rooster.

What's that expression? "Make a plan and God smiles." So suddenly I was missing 50% of the household. Did I really want to go ahead and make this dish? Well...yes. I knew Panda would eat it. I was really looking forward to eating it. So what the hell, I'd make it. I'd just make less of it.

Here is full recipe with my modifications and smartass commentary. I just halved everything. Except the smartass commentary.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

For the sauce:

  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp rice-wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp hone
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp minced garlic

Whisk all ingredients in small bowl until smooth and creamy, set aside.

For the salad:

  • 2 fourteen-and-a-half-ounce cans low-sodium chicken stock. (Fuck you, Martha. Stock does not come in 14 1/2 oz cans. Now I have to do math. 4 oz is 1 cup, 14 1/2 oz times 2 is 29 oz, divided by 4 is 7 cups plus 1 oz. I guess an ounce is a tablespoon? 7 cups plus 1 tablespoon of fucking chicken broth, OK?!)
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or skip all of the above and procure thyself a rotisserie chicken, take the meat off the breast and shred into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 pound vermicelli (or as they say in the neighborhood, voimicelli)
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and cut into 3" long matchsticks
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 3" long matchsticks (or, if you are clever like me, a handful from a bag of pre-shredded carrots)
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 3" long matchsticks
  • 1/2 small red onion, peeled and cut as thinly as possible (skip this if you plan to be kissing)

1.  If using fresh chicken, then bring stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the chicken and simmer 12-to 15 minutes until chicken is completely cooked. Remove chicken from pan, set aside to cool. When cool, shred into bite-sized pieces.

2.  If you used stock, cook vermicelli in same, adding more water if necessary.  Otherwise start from here and cook vermicelli until al dente. Drain. Return pasta to pot and toss with 1 tbsp lime juice, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, and 1 tsp peanut oil (which I didn't have because peanut oil doesn't seem to come in small bottles and I really don't need a 1/2 gallon of it. I used canola)

3.  To assemble salad, put vegetables, chicken and pasta into a large bowl. Pour peanut sauce over all and toss to combine.

4.  If you are the brilliant Pandagirl, make the observation that this salad would be yummy rolled up in lettuce leaves.

And it was.