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In this Vietnamese Fried Chicken Salad you’re going to enjoy delicious but healthy fried chicken!, fresh herbs and beautifully fanned veggies, juicy silky fruits and a very fun flavorful dressing — plus the easy but impressive presentation of a composed salad.
This recipe is Gluten-free, Paleo and Whole30.Jump to Recipe
What makes the best salad
The best salads have a lot of interest: different textures, different temperatures, the best quality ingredients and a lovely dressing!, not to mention a beautiful presentation and often a delicious source of protein.
Asian salads with both sweet and umami flavors, often with fresh herbs, are inviting!
Fresh mint, basil and cilantro add beauty; but when you taste them they also taste of life and risk and nourishment. Herbs have a voice of their own, often transporting us to another land or culture, especially when they’re mixed into ingredients that also echo their origins: ingredients like real fermented soy sauce or fish sauce.
In this Vietnamese Fried Chicken Salad you’re going to get all of that! It’s SUCH an exciting Paleo salad, both visually and with every bite!
All about fish sauce
One of my favorite ingredients is real fish sauce. (Find it here.)
It’s native to both Thai and Vietnamese cooking and is made with just two ingredients, when made according to tradition: anchovies and sea salt. While anchovies may not evoke mental feelings of pleasure for all, the sauce is appealing to most palates when it’s a component. It’s needed for that perfect authentic flavor.
There are many brands of fish sauce available, but only in the last couple of years have I been able to buy and use it again, because of the traditional and Paleo version, made by Red Boat. I definitely did a happy dance when I found this product, because you can’t achieve the right flavor profile without fish sauce in many Asian recipes! (And most fish sauces available today are commercially produced with unnatural ingredients.)
The best Paleo Whole30 fried chicken
The best fried chicken is a bit peppery, and the texture of the coating is crispy, full of flavor, both crunchy and tender as you bite into it.
I figured out a trick for frying it that doesn’t use as much fat. (I love fat, but it is expensive, and moderation is good.)
The chicken cooks perfectly, without a long fry time or too dark of an exterior.
TIPS and how we make Paleo Fried Chicken
The trick is to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
They get dipped in egg and a simple spiced cassava flour coating and fried in only several tablespoons of fat. (I like to use avocado oil + animal fat, both of which do well with extended high heat frying.)
The other key to success is: opening/unrolling the chicken thigh, that’s already been de-boned, and splaying it flat, so there’s greater surface area (i.e. more crispy coating goodness) so the chicken cooks through faster.
You won’t miss the skin, because the coating is so good. (Or you can de-bone your own thighs and leave the skin on.)
How to make Vietnamese Fried Chicken Salad look pretty
If you have 10 extra minutes when you make Vietnamese Fried Chicken Salad, it’s very easy to make it pretty!
By thinly slicing juicy and buttery foods, foods like mango, watermelon and avocado, you can make a lovely display of color.
Adding fresh herbs for garnish and edible flowers, like the wild mint I picked, adds visual interest.
Slicing the fried chicken adds variation (instead of big chunks of meat) and makes eating the salad more accessible.
A sprinkling of sesame seeds is pretty and sets the tone for the Asian themed salad.
Create a beautiful composed salad because the process is artistic and fun. Your guests will be pleased and enticed.
Ingredients in Vietnamese Fried Chicken and assembly
The only ingredients in Vietnamese Fried Chicken Salad that need measuring are the dressing and the fried chicken.
The rest of the salad should be poetic, using produce that’s traditional to Asian cuisine and in keeping with what’s growing in your area at the time. Right now it’s summer in Oregon. We have abundant watermelons! And lots of fresh mint. I recommend using avocado and mangoes if you can access good ones. Peel them and slice them thinly.
Grab a large platter and spread across the middle one large head of romaine or two heads of butter lettuce, washed and chopped. (Double the quantity for a bigger crowd. This recipe serves 5.)
Arrange the avocado and mango by fanning the slices. Create areas of color. Slice the cooling chicken thighs diagonally and place them over the center of the salad. Add seasonal and Asian produce: watermelon, snap peas, bean sprouts, jicama or carrots julienned, green onions, cucumber.
Tuck in lots of fresh herbs: cilantro, mint and/or basil. Drizzle the dressing over all, especially over the veggies.
Sprinkle sesame seeds over the chicken. Step back and look at the salad, adjusting as needed so it’s pretty and well-balanced.
Vietnemese Chicken Salad
- large platter
- see recipes for Paleo Fried Chicken and Vietnamese Vinaigrette for further supplies
- Paleo Fried Chicken <-- click on link for recipe
- Vietnamese Vinaigrette see recipe below
- 1 head lettuce romaine, butter or iceberg (or 2 heads, if butter lettuce, if needed)
- ¼ watermelon very thinly sliced
- 1 to 2 cucumbers sliced thinly at an angle
- 1 to 2 avocados thinly sliced
- 1 large mango thinly sliced
- ½ cup fresh herbs cilantro, basil or mint
- optional garnish: edible flowers
- any other in-season/fun Asian veggies you find: mung bean sprouts, jicama ...
- Thinly slice the juicy and buttery fruits: mango, watermelon and avocado. These will make a lovely display of color. Slice the cucumber at an angle.
- Arrange butter, iceberg or romaine lettuce on large platter.
- Create a beautiful composed salad: Garnish with all the thinly sliced fruits, artistically.
- Slice the fried chicken diagonally. Arrange it and the cucumbers around nicely as well.
- Drizzle half the Vietnamese Vinaigrette over the salad.
- Add fresh herbs for final garnish and optional edible flowers.
- A sprinkling of sesame seeds is pretty and sets the tone for the Asian themed salad.
Vietnamese Vinaigrette dressing here:
- bowl and whisk
- ⅓ cup sesame oil toasted (see link below)
- 1 Tablespoon lime juice or apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce Red Boat brand (see link below)
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce real fermented OR coconut amino acids (see links below)
- 2 cloves garlic minced or crushed
- 2 teaspoons coconut sugar* or maple syrup or raw honey (*omit for Whole30 if desired)
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to dissolve the sweetener. Or use a mason jar with screw top lid and shake to dissolve.