Several years ago, my life was changed when I went to Oh Mai.
I went with my sister, and I, who had never had Vietnamese food before (at least, not that I can remember) didn’t really know what to expect. We ordered the “bun” which is the noodle dish topped with fresh veggies and meat. Guys, it totally knocked my socks off! As in, where was this my whole life. So flavorful and fresh. I had an instant addiction. It is still one of my favorite places to eat and I try to stop by as often as I can. If you are in the Salt Lake area, drop whatever you’re doing and go to Oh Mai. Did I also mention that their banh mis are killer? I’m wiping the drool off my face just thinking about them.
When I can’t make it to Oh Mai, which is more often than not because I don’t live in Salt Lake, I dream about making copies of their food at home. I have made the banh mi before but hadn’t attempted to make the bun. But I knew this had to change.
If you are even remotely interested in cooking Vietnamese food, you should familiarize yourself with Andrea Nguyen. She is the Vietnamese food queen! Her recipes are phenomenal and totally doable at home. Take a gander over to her site and your stomach will start growling. This is her recipe for Hanoi Grilled Chicken from her cookbook, The Banh Mi Handbook.
Back to assembling this sucker. Soft, chewy noodles. Crispy shallots. Flavorful, grilled chicken. Fresh lettuce and pickled carrots. Slices of crisp cucumber. And to top it off, a lime fish sauce vinaigrette that will just about knock your socks off. I am in love with this food, and I hope you will love it, too!
Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Hanoi Chicken
A light, refreshing noodle salad with a serious kick
For the chicken:
- 1 1/2 pounds bonless skinless chicken thighs
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
For the crispy shallots:
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 cup canola oil
For the dressing:
- 4 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoons garlic chili sauce
For the picked carrots:
- 1 cup thinly sliced carrot
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablepoon white vinegar
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
For the salad:
- 8 ounces thin rice noodles
- 3 cups finely torn romaine lettuce
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 1 cup cucumber, thinly sliced (I prefer English)
- 1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup torn mint leaves
- hoisin sauce (optional)
For the pickled carrots:
In a bowl, combine sliced carrot with salt and 1 teaspoon sugar. Massage and stir to ensure the mixture coats the carrots, then keep massaging for a minute or so until water starts to come out of the carrots. Drain in a fine sieve, then rinse under cold water and allow to drain again. Place in a pint jar.
In a bowl, combine the remaining sugar with vinegar and water and stir until dissolved. Pour over the carrots in the pint jar and let pickle in the fridge for at least one hour. These can be refrigerated for up to one month.
For the shallots:
Place oil in small saucepan and heat to 275 F. Add shallots and fry until light golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels to cool. In the meantime, heat oil to 350 F. When it reaches 350, place the fried shallots back in and fry until well browned, probably less than a minute. Watch this closely because they burn easily. Remove promptly and place on the paper towel-lined plate. You can make these several hours in advance but no longer than a day.
For the dressing:
Combine fish sauce, water, lime juice, garlic, sugar, and chili garlic sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
For the chicken:
Mix sugar, salt, black pepper, fish sauce and lime juice in a large bowl. Toss in chicken and coat well. Add canola oil and make sure each piece of chicken is coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside. Allow to marinate at room temp for 30 minutes.
After the chicken has marinated, grill on medium heat or cook over medium-high heat in a cast iron pan until chicken is well seared and reaches an internal temp of 165 F. Remove and set aside.
For the noodles:
While chicken is cooking, boil noodles in a large pot for about 10 minutes, or until just cooked. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Set aside in a bowl.
Equally divide noodles in four separate bowls. Top with lettuce, green onions, bean sprouts, cucumber, pickled carrots, mint leaves, chicken, fried shallots, peanuts. Pour desired amount of dressing over salad and hoisin sauce, if desired. Enjoy!