Vietnamese Summer Salad

There are some foods that I can always count on when I am craving fresh flavors and it needs to be healthy. Vietnamese Summer Rolls are filling, complex textures and bright, aromatic flavors! But, if I told my husband that he was getting an itty-bitty summer roll for dinner, well, he’d be ordering a take-away in a heartbeat! I designed this salad to satisfy his appetite and demanding palate while keeping it light for me. You’ll get a new, different flavor combination in each bite if you prepare the components separately but, don’t worry, other than the chicken marinade this dinner salad only takes 30 minutes to put together.

Preparation time:

2.5 hours (2 hours marinade + 30 minutes)


Prepare ingredients separately then combine right before serving to make every bite special
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • ½ cup Chinese char siu sauce
  • 2 Tbl Chinese chili flakes
  • 2 Tbl garlic (1 Tbl, 1 Tbl divided)
  • ¼ lb medium shrimp
  • 1 lime (zest + juice)
  • Fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • Rice noodles, softened (I used whole grain Asian vermicelli)
  • 1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • Cucumber, noodles or shredded
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • Cilantro, mint, & basil- leaves only
  • 1 Tbl rapeseed or grapeseed oil 

Equipment needed:

  • Small, shallow glass bowl or dish with lid
  • Citrus zester or microplane
  • Grill pan
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Spiralizer(optional)
  • Cutting board
  • Chef’s knife
  • Large bowl
  • Small bowl + whisk or small jar with lid
  • Grill pan


Chicken & Shrimp:

  1. Combine char siu sauce, chili flakes & 1 Tbl garlic in a bowl and stir.
  2. Add chicken thighs to a bowl and toss with the marinade.
  3. Cover bowl and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight
  4. Prepare the shrimp by rinsing the shrimp in cold water. Toss the shrimp with the zest of the lime, salt, and pepper.

NOTE: I buy a packet of chicken thighs, create the marinade, and then package up two thighs + marinade in Ziploc bags in the freezer so they are ready to go whenever we get a craving for this recipe!


  1. Combine the remaining garlic, ginger, chile pepper, fish sauce, ¼ cup lime juice and rice vinegar in a small bowl whisk together
  2. While continuously whisking, slowly pour the sesame oil into the dressing making sure the oil is incorporated into the vinegar. The dressing will thicken and become cloudy in color as it emulsifies.

NOTE: You can skip all the whisking and do what I do to make a vinaigrette by popping all of the ingredients into a small jar with a tight lid and shake, shake, shake until its all emulsified!


  1. Place rice noodles in a heat-safe bowl. Heat 2 cups of water and pour over the noodles so they soften. Once soft, Pour water off of noodles and let cool.
  2. 20180814_214650.jpg
    Creating carrot strips

    Peel the carrot and cucumber and then spiralize. If you don’t have a spiralizer, then use the vegetable peelers to create long, thin strips of the cucumber and carrot. Do not peel the cucumber seeds as they will be too watery. Place all in the salad bowl.

  3. Wash and dry the mint, cilantro, and basil leaves, then slice into uniform strips. Toss with the noodles, carrots & cucumbers.
  4. Toss the dressing to the salad, one tablespoon at a time until the salad is coated with dressing but not drenched.
  5. Heat the half the oil in a grill pan until hot. Add shrimp and saute quickly until the shrimp has turned opaque. Once cooked, transfer to add to the salad. Clean the pan to prep for grilling the chicken.
  6. Heat the half the oil in a grill pan until hot. Remove the chicken from the marinade and add to the pan. Cook the chicken until thoroughly cooked. Transfer to the cutting board and slice into thin strips. Add to the salad and serve immediately.
Vietnamese Summer Salad
Vietnamese Summer Salad with marinated chicken thighs and shrimp with lime zest





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