In the Kitchen With: Christine Ha’s Vietnamese Chicken Salad

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After being immersed in Roman cuisine for the past two years, I have emerged with an intense desire for Asian food — Indian, Malaysian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Cambodian, Indonesian, Korean, Vietnamese… and the list keeps going. I love the textures, spices, and in many cases, the sheer simplicity of making an amazing meal. This week, Christine Ha, MasterChef 3 winner — also known as The Blind Cook — has shared with us her recipe for Vietnamese Chicken Slaw with Ginger Vinaigrette, or Goi Ga. I love her recipe because it allows the flexibility to cook the chicken however you like. I poached it, but you can use whatever method you prefer, even leftover roasted chicken. This is easy and light fare for any day of the week. —Kristina

Why Christine loves this recipe: This is a dish that could be dressed up or down for all occasions. It’s simple enough to make for a weeknight dinner, or you can substitute duck for chicken in a holiday spread. You’ll often find goi ga (as it’s called in Vietnamese) as part of the feasting table, like during Lunar New Year. It’s the perfect balance of sweet, salty, savory, sour, and crunchy.

Portrait by Julie Soefer Photography | Food Photography by Kristina Gill

Goi Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Slaw with Ginger Vinaigrette)
Yields: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

– 1/2 red and/or white cabbage, shredded & drained
– 2 carrots; peeled, shredded & drained
– 1 shallot, thinly sliced & soaked in cold water
– 4 tbsp chiffonaded culantro or finely chopped cilantro
– 2 tbsp chiffonaded mint leaves
– 2 tbsp chiffonaded Thai basil leaves
– 1 lb chicken, cooked & shredded

Ginger vinaigrette

– 2 cloves garlic, grated
– 2 tbsp grated ginger
– 2 red chile peppers, seeded if desired & minced
– 2 limes, juiced (1/4 c)
– 3/4 cup granulated sugar
– 1/2 cup fish sauce
– 1 cup water

Garnishes

– 4 oz roasted peanuts, crushed
– 6 tsp finely chopped fried shallot or onion

Accompaniments

– Prawn chips

Method

1. Make sauce: In a small bowl, combine garlic, ginger, peppers, and lime juice. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, fish sauce, and water until incorporated. Whisk together with garlic mixture. Let stand 30 minutes for flavors to combine.

2. Toss slaw: In a large bowl, toss together cabbage, carrot, shallot, and 1/2 cup of the ginger vinaigrette; season with pepper. Toss with culantro (or cilantro), mint, and basil.

3. Transfer slaw onto platter and place chicken on top. Garnish with peanuts and fried shallots. Serve with prawn chips and remaining ginger vinaigrette on the side for dipping.

Christine Ha's Goi Ga | Design*Sponge

About Christine: Christine Ha is the first-ever blind contestant and season 3 winner of MasterChef (US). Christine’s first cookbook, Recipes From My Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food (Rodale, 2013), was a New York Times best seller. She has been featured on NPR and the BBC, and travels around the globe to give keynote addresses and TEDxTalks. She is a co-host on the Canadian cooking show, “Four Senses” on AMI, and a judge on “MasterChef” Vietnam on VTV3. In 2014, Christine received the 2014 Helen Keller Personal Achievement Award from the American Foundation for the Blind. Christine holds an MFA from University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program, and is currently working on a memoir. She resides in Houston. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter: @theblindcook and @ChristineHHa, YouTube, and Instagram.

Christine Ha | Design*Sponge

  1. Danielle says:

    This sounds amazing – and perfect for the hot weather we’ve been having in the midwest! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sariah says:

    This sounds delicious, and pretty approachable for an Asian food newbie. Have you ever tried it with less sugar?

  3. Kristina says:

    Hi Sariah- That was also my first thought when I saw the recipe! When I style the food for the photos here though, I make the recipe as presented (I also do this so I can trouble shoot if there are any questions from readers). My suggestion here would be to play around with it and find the taste that’s best for you- you may prefer something less sweet, and more gingery, or you may decide to use less dressing to minimize how much sugar you eat. It tastes great as is! But I do realize that not everyone can cook with that much sugar. -Kristina

    1. Sariah says:

      Hi Kristina. I tried it today with half the sugar and thought it was delicious. Also, I used 1/2 cup of the dressing as per the recipe, but since it makes about 2 cups, it really isn’t a ton of sugar….I had just assumed on first read that all the dressing would be used.

  4. Kaitlyn says:

    Amazing! So simple. I was wonder the same, less sugar.

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