Make Ahead

Spicy Grilled Chicken Salad with Noodles

June 28, 2012
6 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

We met our friends Sara and Erik for a picnic in the park recently, and after about 45 minutes, we were surprised by a sudden thunderstorm and were forced to pack up our goodies and flee in all different directions. But just before the heavens opened, I managed to try a forkful of a delicious chicken and rice noodle salad Sara had prepared. She and Erik have recently cut out gluten, and she’s experimenting with a whole new slate of ingredients. Crisp vegetables, tender noodles and morsels of chicken were all cloaked in a zippy dressing spiked with lime juice, fish sauce and a hint of Sriracha, then showered with finely sliced mint and basil. As soon as we were home and dry, I asked Sara to email me the recipe, and this is my version. —Merrill Stubbs

What You'll Need
  • Marinating the chicken
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha (more to taste)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 6 medium chicken thighs on the bone, with the skin on
  • Sea salt
  • The Salad
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups shredded Savoy cabbage
  • 1 cup julienned carrots
  • 1 cup thinly sliced sugar snap peas (sliced on the diagonal)
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 6 tablespoons walnut oil
  • Sea salt
  • 8 ounces pad thai rice noodles
  • small handfuls fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • small handfuls fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  1. Marinating the chicken
  2. In a wide, shallow bowl or other container, stir together the lime juice, brown sugar, fish sauce, chili garlic sauce, Sriracha and garlic, making sure to dissolve the brown sugar. Add the chicken to the marinade and turn to coat the pieces thoroughly. Cover and marinate for 3 to 6 hours in the refrigerator.
  1. The Salad
  2. Combine all of the prepared vegetables (leaving out the herbs) in a large bowl. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature while you make the rest of the salad.
  3. To make the dressing, whisk together the lime juice, garlic, rice wine vinegar, Sriracha, brown sugar, fish sauce, sesame oil, walnut oil and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Taste and add more salt if you like. Set aside.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Toss the vegetables with a couple pinches of sea salt.
  5. When the water is boiling, break the noodles in half and drop them into the pot. Cook the noodles according to the package directions, until they’re tender but still have a little bite. Drain the noodles and run them under cold water for a minute or two to cool them and keep them from getting gummy. Drain them again and add to the bowl with the vegetables.
  6. Heat a grill or a grill pan to medium heat. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade and sprinkle each lightly with salt on all sides. Start the thighs fat-side down on the grill, cooking for 7 minutes, until the fat is crisp and charred. Flip the thighs and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes (slice into one with a sharp knife to check that there isn't any pink remaining). Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the grill and set it aside to cool for about 5 minutes.
  7. When the thighs are cool enough to handle, cut the meat off the bones and then slice it crosswise, so that each slice includes a little strip of charred, crispy fat.
  8. Toss the vegetables and noodles with about two thirds of the dressing, and taste a noodle. Add more dressing if you like. Fold in the chicken and the herbs and serve. If you want to make this ahead of time, or if you end up with leftovers in the fridge, I recommend warming the salad gently before serving (cold rice noodles can get quite stiff). You can either warm the salad for 30 to 45 seconds in the microwave, or put it in a large sauté pan over medium low heat, tossing frequently, until it starts to loosen and warm, about 5 minutes.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Claire
  • pidgeon92
  • sevenfaces
  • ReeceAmy
  • eightburners

15 Reviews

NXL December 13, 2023
I like a good bite, but this was over-the-top spicy! Maybe my jalapeño was exceptionally hot? Substituted olive oil for the walnut oil, but otherwise followed the recipe as written. Love it!
Claire February 2, 2019
Delicious, forgiving, easily modified winner!
Merrill S. February 3, 2019
So glad you liked it!
Dawn C. June 23, 2016
Made this tonight for dinner and it was really good but I want more jalapenos next time.
pidgeon92 June 9, 2015
We had this for dinner tonight. The sauce and salad combination was excellent as written. I had some trouble with the chicken thighs, the skin got stuck to the grill. I pulled it off and put it on the plate prior to taking the thighs off the grill. We are looking forward to having the leftovers for lunch.
Castle C. February 19, 2015
Made this last night for dinner with some chicken breasts that I just roasted in the oven. I didn't use the marinade for the meat as I didn't want it to be too spicy for the kids. Great recipe. I was multi-tasking while doing this, so my noodles ended up a little gummy, but it was still delicious. I also may just use regular cabbage next time...savoy is twice the price and isn't necessarily any better in my opinion.
Leslie August 7, 2014
Hi, I can't wait to try this recipe! A question: has anyone used peanut oil instead of walnut oil? Just wondering if I substituted that, and didn't use any sesame oil, if the flavor would be the same. Thanks!
sevenfaces May 13, 2014
What a smashing salad! Next time I will omit the sesame oil, it's flavour totally overpowered the dressing and I think I could do without it completely. I made "noodles" out of thinly fried and sliced egg omelettes and added it to the mix too. I predict this salad will feature heavily in my life next summertime :)
ReeceAmy January 2, 2014
We continue to LOVE this! I started using brown rice in lieu of the noodles.
Chloe8 June 26, 2013
I made it on the weekend. It was amazing! I added sliced zucchini.
eightburners June 8, 2013
Though not traditional at all, I made this with regular pasta noodles, and it was delicious. This is the second week in a row we'll be having it for Saturday dinner al fresco. Thanks for the wonderful inspiration!
monkeymom June 3, 2013
We really liked this! Used kelp noodles instead of pad thai noodles and it turned out great. Thanks for this recipe...will be making it all summer.
LeeLeeBee March 26, 2013
I found the dressing as written to be quite oily and without the flavor I was expecting. About 2 Tbs more of lime juice and 1 tsp more of rice vinegar, plus another 1 tsp of brown sugar and 2 tsp of Sriracha did it for me.
AntoniaJames July 26, 2012
Made this tonight using pierino's Koream flank steak instead of grilled chicken. Sensational! ;o)
ReeceAmy July 19, 2012
OMG! This is fantastic. Wouldn't change a thing. Even chopping the vegetables was relaxing. Looking forward to making it again. Thanks Merrill!