Vietnamese Mango and Chicken Salad

By • May 3, 2012 18 Comments

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Author Notes: This salad is my riff on a banana flower salad my local pho restaurant serves. The banana flower has a slightly bitter and astringent quality. It's julienned in the salad and combined with shredded chicken and pink grapefruit. The whole dish is dressed with a tangy and herbaceous dressing, which makes it a sprightly accompaniment to a bowl of pho. I wanted to make a similar salad using green mango. Green mango is tart but not bitter and has just a little astringency; with a little tweaking of the flavor of the dressing, it works beautifully in this salad. The result is a fresh and lively dish that's perfect on its own as a light meal or paired with a Southeast Asian curry or noodle dish.

This recipe calls for rau ram, a Vietnamese herb, that has oblong leaves marked with a chevron shape (sometimes subtle, so look closely). It can be found in Asian markets and has a fresh, grassy, cilantro-like flavor. It can also be called Vietnamese mint. If you can't find it, just add additional mint and basil to the recipe or use cilantro instead.
hardlikearmour

Food52 Review: This is a bright and umami packed salad. That marriage of flavor components doesn't always happen, but in this case it worked very well.
This recipe has quite a few steps and calls for speciality ingredients that can be difficult to find (rau ram!). I live near several Asian markets where I shop regularly and could not find neither Thai basil ( which is usually available ) nor rau ram. The substitutions provided work great and all of steps in the recipe are important. The finished product is an incredibly different and delicious chicken salad. And we can all use one of those!
Annie stader

Serves 2 to 4

For the salad:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 3/4 pound
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil, plus more for brushing chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed Thai or regular basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed rau ram leaves
  • 2 firm (unripe) mangoes
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cups chopped roasted peanuts, divided
  • Additional mint, basil, and/or rau rum for garnish (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar
  • 1 Thai red chile, seeded and finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 large grapefruit
  1. Place an oven rack about 6 inches below the broiler, and preheat the broiler to 400º F. Pat the chicken breasts dry and coat them with peanut oil. Place them onto a broiler pan. Broil on one side for 6 to 8 minutes, until they are lightly browned. Flip and broil on the other side for an additional 4 to 8 minutes, until the internal temperature at the thickest part is 160 to 165º F. Transfer the chicken breasts to a plate, and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. Set up a bowl of ice water near the sink, making sure a strainer will nest in it. Add the salt to 1 quart of water and bring to a boil in a wide-rimmed saucepan. Place the mint, basil, and rau ram into a stainer and place the strainer into the boiling water, making sure all of the leaves are submerged. After 15 seconds, drain the herbs into the strainer and transfer the strainer to the ice bath. After a few seconds, remove the strainer from the ice bath and squeeze the excess water from the herbs. Mince the herbs and place them in a medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil and mix well. Set the bowl aside.
  3. Start to make the dressing. In a small bowl that fits your strainer, combine the shallot, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, chile, black pepper, and salt. Set strainer over the bowl. Supreme the grapefruit into the strainer, so you catch the juice. Squeeze the membrane to extract as much juice as possible. Set aside.
  4. Prepare the rest of your salad. Using a sharp paring knife, peel your mangoes. Use either a julienne peeler (preferred) or the large holes on your box grater to carefully remove the flesh from the mango. Julienne or grate the mango into the medium bowl with the herb mixture. Toss with a fork to thoroughly mix. Add the grapefruit segments, but don't toss yet.
  5. Whisk the dressing and taste for balance—it should be mildly tangy, just a bit sweet, and fairly salty. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken into a small bowl. Add the dressing to the chicken and toss well to coat.
  6. Dump the chicken and dressing into the mango-herb mixture. Toss well to combine. Break the grapefruit up into chunks as you mix. Allow the salad to rest for at least 15 minutes, or up to 1 hour, to allow the flavors to meld together. When ready to serve, taste and add salt or pepper as needed. Add about half of the chopped peanuts and mix well. If adding additional herbs as garnish, chiffonade the desired combination of the mint, basil, and rau ram. Plate the salad, and garnish with the remaining peanuts and herbs.
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Comments (18) Questions (0)

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about 1 month ago Matt Libling

Delicious recipe - just made it! Has given me a few ideas for more ways to use mangoes in savoury food. In fact I might use it to tweak a different version of timedeating's mango salsa - www.timedeating.co.uk/mango...

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about 3 years ago Pinch&Swirl

Testing Notes on Vietnamese Mango and Chicken Salad:

Overall I thought this recipe was outstanding. I'm planning to make it again for company this weekend. Here are some specific notes:

Recipe: active time 20 minutes, total preparation time 2 hours (including chicken cooling time and refrigerator resting time)

I couldn't find rau rum and used cilantro (as suggested by the recipe author) in its place with great results.

The chicken breasts took 18 minutes to reach 165 degrees at 6" below the broiler - a few minutes longer than the recipe suggests.

I found breaking up the grapefruit segments in the salad was awkward. When I make this next, I'll chop them up beforehand.

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about 3 years ago Pinch&Swirl

I tested this recipe and sent notes to the food52 editors by the deadline, but I don't see them published anywhere. (I sent another note asking about it) Anyway, the salad is absolutely fabulous. I made it twice in a week!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks for your feedback, and I'm thrilled you liked the salad! Would you mind adding your tasting notes to the comment thread?

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

This is my favorite kind of salad, substantial yet refreshing. I can't wait to try this, hla.

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, gr! I'd love to hear from you if you give it a try.

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about 3 years ago BlueKaleRoad

I'm definitely saving this to make, HLA! My brother is moving to Hanoi in July and I've been exploring/eating more Vietnamese food. Your salad looks fresh and delicious!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, BKR! That's a big move, and I hope you'll get to visit!!! The salad is really fresh and zippy. Let me know if you give it a try.

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about 3 years ago arielleclementine

i really love the sound of this salad- all my favorite flavors in one place. i've never had rau rum leaves (to my knowledge)- i'll have to seek them out!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, ac! It tastes very similar to cilantro. If you've got an Asian market nearby you can probably find it. Here's a reference photo: http://www.sunset.com/food...

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Looks great, HLA! We have wonderful Vietnamese restaurants in the Northern VA suburbs of DC and I love salads like this. Yours looks absolutely delicious.

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, EmilyC! It's full of all sorts of fresh flavors.

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Wonderful salad and so complex. I love how light it is, beautifully done

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, sdebrango! It's really tasty, and I'm already craving it again. I just noticed your gorgeous mango tart - it looks like a sure winner!!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, jbg!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, aargersi! The May issue of Sunset magazine has an article on rau rum. I suspect if you've had Vietnamese food you've tasted it without knowing it!

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about 3 years ago jenniebgood

This sounds delicious!

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about 3 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Wow HLA - this sounds amazing and fresh and perfect for a warm spring (or summer) night. I have never heard of rau rum - I always learn stuff from you!!!