Summer is when I seriously feel the need to eat more salad to beat the heat. This cabbage-based salad with mango, shredded chicken and herbs is so refreshing and crunchy. It is also beautiful to look at with all the vibrant colors.
This chicken cabbage mango salad has all the features of typical Vietnamese salads. In Vietnam, we usually make tasty salads by bringing contrasting flavors and textures into balanced harmony. You can read more about them in this Vietnamese rare beef in lime juice salad post.
How to make chicken cabbage mango salad
I use chicken breast in this recipe, but please feel free to use thigh or drumstick. Chicken is poached with ginger, shallot and fish sauce to remove poultry odor as well as to make it more flavorful.
Red cabbage is crunchier than green cabbage. I choose to use red cabbage mainly because its dark purple color together with yellow (from mango) and green (from herbs) create such an eye-pleasing visual effect. I like to add some salt to shredded red cabbage before mixing it with other ingredients to remove some of its excess water. I somehow find the blue liquid from red cabbage looks a little weird and… disturbing. If you don’t like red cabbage, I think it’s fine to use green cabbage. You will still need to salt the green cabbage, let it sit for 5-10 minutes and then squeeze out excess water.
Mango is another essential ingredient in this recipe. It is best to use unripe/near-ripe mangoes because they are firmer and not overly sweet. Some tartness from unripe mangoes also adds interesting tang to the dish.
In Vietnam, the best herb to use in a chicken salad is Vietnamese coriander (rau ram). Its flavor/aroma is cilantro-like and more lemony and peppery than cilantro. I heard that this herb can cause some side effects if we eat it too frequently. I cannot find rau ram where I live, and I’m not sure about its availability in other places in the U.S. and other countries. However, cilantro, mint and Thai basil are more than capable of brightening this salad and making me happy.
Another Vietnamese salad you may want to try is Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad (Bun Bo Xao). It is also very refreshing and healthy.