Signature Sauce

Vietnamese chicken salad bowls with pickled vegetables and nuoc cham

Paleo-Friendly, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free

4 Servings, 720 Calories/Serving

20 – 30 Minutes

Cool off with this refreshing, paleo-friendly Vietnamese salad, heaped with chicken, crisp pickled cucumber, radishes, and carrots, and umami-rich nuoc cham dressing.


  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 or 3 red radishes
  • Sun Basket quick-pickle brine (apple cider vinegar - honey)
  • ¼ pound shredded carrots
  • 10 ounces flat rice noodles*
  • 4 to 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 1 pound total)
  • 1 or 2 cloves peeled fresh garlic
  • 2 romaine hearts
  • ½ cup roasted cashews
  • 6 or 7 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • Sun Basket nuoc cham (fish sauce - lime juice - coconut sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (optional)
  • *Not paleo; omit for a paleo-strict version.

Chef's Tip

Nuoc cham is tailor-made for customizing. Feel free to adjust the dressing to your liking by adding a sprinkling of sugar for a little more sweetness, a squeeze of lime for more brightness, or a splash of your favorite fish sauce for complexity.



Heat the water for the noodles; pickle the vegetables

In a large sauce pot, bring 6 cups water to a boil for the rice noodles.
  • Peel the cucumber, if desired, and trim off the ends; cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, then thinly slice on the diagonal.
  • Trim the ends from the radishes. Cut them in half, then cut the halves into thin half-moons.
In a small sauce pot, bring the quick-pickle brine to a boil. Remove from the heat, add the cucumber, radishes, and carrots, and season with salt. Cover and let stand, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the rest of the meal.


Soak the rice noodles

When the water for the rice noodles comes to a boil, remove the pot from the heat. Add the noodles and let soak until just tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Drain the noodles and rinse them under cold water.
While the noodles soak, prepare the chicken.


Prep and cook the chicken

  • Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel; season generously with salt and pepper.
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons oil until hot but not smoking. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until lightly browned and cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board to cool slightly, then cut into ½-inch-thick slices.
While the chicken cooks and cools, prepare the remaining salad ingredients and the nuoc cham dressing.


Prep the remaining salad ingredients; make the nuoc cham dressing

  • Finely chop, press, or grate enough garlic to measure 1 teaspoon.
  • Trim the root end from the romaine hearts.
  • Coarsely tear the romaine leaves.
  • Coarsely chop the cashews.
  • Strip the cilantro leaves from the stems.
In a small bowl, stir together the nuoc cham, garlic, ½ cup water, and as much sambal oelek as you like


Toss the chicken salad

In a large bowl, toss the chicken and romaine with half the nuoc cham dressing. Season with salt, pepper, and more dressing to taste.



For any paleo diners, transfer their portion of chicken salad to individual bowls and top with the cashews. Toss the rice noodles with the remaining chicken salad, transfer to individual bowls, and top with the cashews. Garnish all the salads with the pickled vegetables and cilantro. Serve any remaining dressing on the side.

Kids Can!

  • Measure out the garlic.
  • Coarsely tear the romaine leaves.
  • Strip the cilantro leaves from the stems.
  • Toss together the salad.
  • Garnish with cashews and cilantro.

Nutrition per serving: Protein: 35g (70% DV), Fiber: 4g (16% DV), Total Fat: 42g (65% DV), Monounsaturated Fat: 14g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 6g (30% DV), Cholesterol: 90mg (30% DV), Sodium: 1220mg (51% DV), Carbohydrates: 57g (19% DV), Total Sugars: 11g, Added Sugars (Honey in quick-pickle brine; coconut sugar in nuoc cham): 7g (14% DV). Not a significant source of trans fat.
Contains: Fish, tree nuts.

Paleo-strict nutrition per serving: Calories: 460, Protein: 30g (60% DV), Fiber: 3g (12% DV), Total Fat: 27g (42% DV), Monounsaturated Fat: 14g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4.5g, Saturated Fat: 4.5g (23% DV), Cholesterol: 90mg (30% DV), Sodium: 960mg (40% DV), Carbohydrates: 28g (9% DV), Total Sugars: 13g, Added Sugars (Honey in quick-pickle brine, coconut sugar in nuoc cham): 8g (16% DV). Not a significant source of trans fat.
Contains: Fish, tree nuts.

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