Vietnamese Shredded Chicken Salad

Vietnamese Chicken Salad | Pinky's Pantry
My sister, Helen, got the brilliant idea that we should all do this toxin-eliminating, inflammation-reducing, cleansing diet called the Whole 30 program. The program actually sounds really good. It’s supposed to restore a healthy digestive tract, balance your immune system, and raise your metabolism.

Old Goat Honey and I decided that we would do it! It could only help us, not hurt us, and Lord knows we could both stand to lose more than a few pounds. Plus the dramatic benefits of the program sound great! Our resolve firmed up as we read accounts of “consistently high energy levels, improved athletic performance, better sleep, improved focus and mental clarity, and a sunnier disposition.” But that’s about as far as we got on the program. Somehow, we just can’t seem to get started!

ME:  Let’s start the program on Monday.

OLD GOAT:  We’re supposed to take Bashful and her friend out to dinner on Tuesday. Maybe we should start it on Friday.

ME:  We can’t! I have a Mexican potluck at work on Friday!

OLD GOAT:  Well, we’re going out to lunch with your Aunt and her boyfriend on Saturday. Maybe we should start it next Monday instead.

And that’s pretty much how it’s been going. Helen has been successfully doing the program and bugging me everyday to get started on it, while we keep guiltily putting it off for one reason or another. Sigh…….. We’ll get started on it eventually. I know we will……..eventually……

In the meantime, in an effort to at least try to have something healthy on the dinner table tonight, I made this Vietnamese Shredded Chicken Salad. The only “questionable” ingredient in it is the white sugar, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use agave syrup or some other healthy sugar substitute in its place (though I haven’t tried it myself). Also, I used shredded rotisserie chicken which made it really easy.

VIETNAMESE SHREDDED CHICKEN SALAD
(Recipe from the November 2000 issue of Saveur magazine)

  • 2 fresh Thai red chiles (can substitute serrano chiles)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 3 tbsp. Vietnamese fish sauce (nuó’c mam)
  • 3 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 4 cups shredded napa cabbage
  • 2 medium carrots, julienned
  • ½ cup roughly chopped fresh mint
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cilantro leaves, for garnish
  1. Cut chiles in half, remove seeds, then mince.
  2. Place chiles in a large bowl.
  3. Add garlic, sugar, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, oil, and onion.
  4. Mix until sugar dissolves.
  5. Add chicken, napa cabbage, carrots, and mint.
  6. Season with freshly ground black pepper and toss well.
  7. Garnish with cilantro leaves, if desired.

NOTE:  No. 1 got the idea to sprinkle chopped peanuts on top of the salad and loved it! He and Old Goat think the peanuts make the salad even better!

Pork Meatball Banh Mi

Pork Meatball Banh Mi | Pinky's Pantry
In Vietnam, the term banh mi usually refers to bread, in particular the baguette which was introduced into Vietnamese cuisine by the French during the colonial period. Mini-baguettes are very popular and can be found everywhere in Vietnam. They’re typically used for Banh Mi sandwiches which are filled with all sorts of fillings, from pork to vegetables to eggs, and which are eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

I came across this amazing recipe in Bon Appétit magazine several years ago. OMG, is it good! It embodies that wonderful Asian flavor combination of spicy, sweet, sour, and salty. It has a few components to it so may seem a bit complicated, but the nice part is that much of it can be made ahead of time. Trust me, it’s well worth the time and effort it takes to prepare. The original recipe called for frying the meatballs but I bake mine, partly because baking them is healthier, but mostly because there’s less of a mess to clean up afterwards and that’s always a good thing in my book!Pork Meatball Banh Mi | Pinky's Pantry

PORK MEATBALL BANH MI

Hot Chili Mayo:

  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha or other hot chili sauce
  1. Stir all ingredients together in small bowl.
  2. Season with salt if desired.

NOTE:  Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill in refrigerator.

Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha or other hot chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Line rimmed baking sheet with tin foil.
  2. Gently mix all ingredients together in large bowl.
  3. Moisten hands with water and roll meat mixture into 1½-inch meatballs.
  4. Arrange on baking sheet.

NOTE:  Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover meatballs and chill in refrigerator.

Daikon Salad:

  • 2 cups coarsely grated carrots
  • 2 cups coarsely grated peeled daikon (Japanese white radish)
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar (seasoned works too if that’s all you have)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Toss all ingredients together in medium bowl.
  2. Let stand at room temperature at least 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

Sandwiches:

  • Asian sesame oil for brushing meatballs
  • 4 mini-baguette loaves
  • thinly sliced jalapeño chiles
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  1. If refrigerated, bring meatballs to room temperature before baking.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Lightly brush meatballs with sesame oil. It is not necessary to turn them over.
  4. Bake meatballs for 25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
  5. Cut each baguette horizontally in half.
  6. Spread hot chili mayo over each bread half.
  7. Drain pickled vegetables and lay a little on bottom halves of bread.
  8. Top each with 1/4 of meatballs.
  9. Arrange jalapeños, then cilantro, on top of meatballs.
  10. Cover with bread tops, pressing down to hold filling in place.

NOTE:  You can make Banh Mi Sliders for a great appetizer or a light meal, too. Just make the meatballs a little bit bigger and then flatten them into patties. Use dinner rolls or little buns in place of the baguette rolls. They’re always a crowd pleaser!
Banh Mi Sliders | Pinky's Pantry