Chicken and cabbage salad

Chicken and cabbage salad

Leanne Kitchen

Often referred to as ‘Vietnamese coleslaw’, this salad, called goi bap cai ga, is positively addictive and incredibly easy to make. Chicken, pork, prawns or a combination of these are commonly added to the cabbage base – just take care not to overcook the chicken; it should have a wonderful (almost) slippery texture, which comes from very gentle, slow simmering. Serve this as a light summer main course accompanied by plenty of steamed rice. Note that Asian supermarkets sell grooved, hand-held peelers that take the work out of achieving long, thin, elegantly shredded vegetables.


Quantity Ingredient
1 x 1.25kg chicken
1 lemongrass stem, bruised and tied in a knot
4 kaffir lime leaves
6 slices fresh ginger
Vietnamese pickled onion
350g cabbage, hard core removed, very thinly sliced
2 lebanese cucumbers, cut into fine matchsticks
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded into fine ribbons or cut into matchsticks
handful vietnamese mint leaves
handful mint leaves
handful perilla leaves, large ones torn
80g roasted unsalted peanuts, crushed, plus extra to serve


Quantity Ingredient
55g caster sugar
125ml rice vinegar
125ml lime juice
125ml fish sauce
3 medium red chillies, thinly sliced

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
35g Fried shallots
prawn crackers


  1. Put the chicken in a saucepan large enough to hold it snugly. Add the lemongrass, lime leaves and ginger and enough cold water to just cover the chicken. Slowly bring to a very gentle simmer over medium–low heat – bubbles should only just be breaking the surface. Cover and cook the chicken for 45 minutes, taking care not to let the water simmer too vigorously.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and stand, covered, until the liquid is cool. Remove the chicken and reserve the liquid for another use. Using your fingers, coarsely shred the chicken, discarding the skin and bones.
  3. Combine the chicken, pickled onion, cabbage, cucumber and carrot in a bowl and toss to combine. Add the herbs and peanuts and toss again.
  4. For the dressing, stir the sugar, rice vinegar and lime juice in a bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Add the fish sauce and chillies then pour over the salad. Toss well then divide among plates. Scatter over some extra crushed peanuts and fried shallots and serve with the prawn crackers.
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