This Vietnamese chicken salad is perfect for summer; it’s bright, fresh, crisp, and just a tiny bit (optionally) spicy. It’s so good on its own, as a side, or as a taco or burrito filling.

This salad holds a special place in my heart because it’s one of the first things Steph ate at my parents house years ago at one of our first family dinners together.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad Recipe |

Confession: I don’t like pronouncing things in their native accent. When speaking in Vietnamese to my parents, I’ll say English words with a Vietnamese accent, and vice versa when speaking to my Vietnamese friends in English, I will say Vietnamese words with an English accent. Same goes with Japanese. It’s only after I “know” everyone is switching languages that I can switch accents. It’s a weird mental block I just can’t get over.

But many people like to know how to pronounce foreign language words properly, especially when it comes to food. Goi ga means chicken salad, but pronouncing it can be a little finicky. Since Vietnamese is a tonal language, if you go one note too high with goi, you will be saying “chicken package” (not that bad), and if you go one note too low, you will be saying “call the chicken on the telephone” (pretty bad, mostly funny).

So, how do you pronounce goi ga properly? Using the power of rhyme. To pronounce goi, you want to rhyme it exactly with how you’d intonate “Would you like some koi?” To pronouce ga, you want to rhyme and intonate it as with the last syllable in pizza. That’s it.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad Recipe |

Vietnamese Chicken Salad Recipe |

Back to the salad: this is a simple crisp raw cabbage salad with fresh herbs and lightly poached chicken. Traditionally the herbs are what my mom would refer to as rau song – fresh greens – which means lots of Vietnamese herbs like Vietnamese coriander, perilla, thai basil, mint, etc.

We live 15 minutes drive from a large Vietnamese supermarket where those herbs are plentiful and under $1 a bag, but honestly, I’d much rather walk to the corner grocery store and buy whatever they have, which means just cilantro and mint. It’s just as good, and way less work, and much better for the environment.

The chicken is poached Hainanese style, which is not a thing that’s done in Vietnam but I’ve loved it since being married to Steph, and it’s not extra work so it’s silly not to. It just means that you poach the chicken with ginger and green onions. The resulting broth is one of the best, easiest chicken broths around too, and you can use it to boost your Hainanese Chicken Rice game.

If you hate cutting cabbage, we bought one of these cabbage peelers back in Japan and love it. They use it for making the massive amounts of cabbage you need for tonkatsu. It works perfectly here too. One note on purple cabbage, it’s very pretty but be careful of staining everything purple. We use a black cutting board on purpose when working with purple cabbage.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad Recipe |

Vietnamese Chicken Salad Recipe |

Vietnamese Chicken Salad Recipe |

Last but not least, this salad is wonderful as meal prep and also makes a perfect taco or burrito filling, as is, with no changes or sauces needed. Just fry up a couple of tortillas and go to town. The avocado isn’t optional, by the way. Highly essential.

Goi Ga - Vietnamese Chicken Salad Recipe

Serves 4
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 1 green onion
  • 1 inch ginger about 25g, cut into matchsticks
  • 12 ounces boneless skinless chicken thighs

For the dressing

  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 Thai bird’s eye chili sliced, optional
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce see note
  • juice of 1 lime

For the salad

  • 1 small cabbage shaved or thinly sliced
  • 1/4 small onion sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint roughly chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro roughly chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado cubed


  • Bring 2 cups of very lightly salted water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the green onions, half of the ginger, and the chicken. Add water as needed to cover your chicken. When the water comes back up to a boil, drop the heat to low and poach, keeping the liquid below a boil, for 25 minutes.
    Vietnamese Chicken Salad Recipe |
  • Meanwhile, make your dressing. Combine the garlic, chili, sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce in a jar, along with the remaining ginger and 1 cup of cold water. Stir or shake well to mix, then set aside.
    Vietnamese Chicken Salad Recipe |
  • When the chicken is done, remove the thighs to a bowl or cutting board. Save the chicken broth for another use. Shred the chicken.
    Vietnamese Chicken Salad Recipe |
  • In a large platter or salad bowl, combine your cabbage, onion, mint, cilantro, and shredded chicken. Top with the dressing, and then toss well. Top with your cubed avocado(es) before serving.
    Vietnamese Chicken Salad Recipe |


Look for fish sauce bottles labeled mam nhi (first press).
I also topped the salad with commercial fried onions/shallots.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad Recipe |


  1. Margaret says:

    Could you please add the approximate weight of ginger in grams or ounces? My local stores sometimes have pieces only as big as a thumb and other times an inch in diameter or more. Thank you.

    1. Mike says:

      Hi Margaret – it’s about 25g ginger, I made a note of it in the recipe too, thanks!

  2. Lynda Browning says:

    I once lived and taught English in Viet Nam. I absolutely love Vietnamese food. This is a favourite dish that I feel I could make. Thank you for making it so simple. Perfect for Summer consumption.

  3. Bruce says:

    Love it, reminds me of my childhood! We would use the poaching liquid to make chicken congee along side the goi ga.
    Growing up with this also forever changed my perception of what the meat to greens ratio should be in a salad!

  4. Our 13 year old Cole loves salads. And being that this one is Vietnamese, I can’t wait to make this with him!

  5. 5 stars
    Why is everything better when coated in this dressing sauce? It is so good! I am eating this right now only with napa cabage instead of red cabbage. But will def. make it again because it is the perfect summer salad! Thanks for the recipe.

  6. Diana says:

    5 stars
    Hi! I just have to let you know how much I LOVE this salad! I make it at least every other week and I am so happy while I eat it. I think about it all the time and the dressing is so amazing! Thanks for sharing :)

  7. Sabrina says:

    5 stars
    My family loves all types of salads so I’m always looking for new delicious recipes and this one did not disappoint! It was so easy to make and packed with so many fresh flavors. Thanks for this, it’s a keeper!

  8. Janet says:

    Can you tell us what brand fish sauce you use? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie says:

      we usually use red boat, but also megachef or golden boy!

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Thanks for reading as always!
-Steph & Mike