Vietnamese Chicken Bowl
Vietnamese Grilled Chicken Bowl
Summer is in full swing and I’m determined to use my stove as little as possible. I also crave fresh, crisp, healthy recipes that still satisfy without requiring a lot of grunt work. Does chopping vegetables count as grunt work? I don’t think so. There’s something meditative about chopping, so to me, dicing up a bunch of fresh vegetables I’d like to use up is no work at all. Enter cold noodle asian chicken bowls. They are very versatile, perfect for hot temperatures and the variations are really limitless. I want to show you how easy it is to make.
The Vietnamese marinated chicken in this recipe is absolutely divine. The flavor takes you away to somewhere tropical and you can really taste all the flavors after cooking it.
It may seem like there’s a lot involved but you are only using the stove to cook the chicken and the rest comes together without breaking a sweat. In a few easy steps you’ve got yourself plenty of different options to use throughout the week. Let’s break it down. You’ll want to: marinate your chicken, make the quick pickles and the dressing, and prep the vegetables going into the bowl, cook the chicken and assemble!
Scroll to the bottom for the recipe and the video!
Step 1 - Marinate the Chicken
This Chicken Marinade combines all the delicious flavors without all the effort. No waiting here. Just mix up the ingredients, add you chicken and chill. Make everything else and then cook the chicken last. By the time you are done prepping your recipe, the chicken will have sat long enough in the marinade to absorb all the delicious flavors like ginger, lime, soy and the fish sauce.
Let’s talk about fish sauce…. the magical little ingredient that can transform your dishes into an Umami powerhouse of flavors! It can be scary and go from punchy to pungent really quickly if you aren’t careful. Fish sauce, when used sparingly, shouldn’t be scary. Add it to soups, stews, marinades, meatball mixes or anything else that needs to be elevated in flavor. Think of it like adding anchovies to a dressing recipe or using Worcestershire sauce - a little goes a long way but without it, something is missing. My favorite brand to use, that you can at any grocery store these days is Red Boat. You can get it here!
Step 2 - Make the Quick Pickles and bowl dressing
In this case, we are talking Banh Mi Pickles, or, the pickles commonly used in Vietnamese recipes which consist of carrots and Daikon radish julienned and pickled in a super simple brine and usually spiced up with chili peppers. It couldn’t be easier and the results are so worth it. The satisfying crunch and hit of punchy acid will really elevate the bowl and brighten up the dish. This is what gives the bowl that summery, fresh feel if you ask me.
If you can, save the leftovers and add them to sandwiches or eat them alongside an easy weeknight stir fry. DELICIOUS. They last 1-2 weeks stored in an airtight container. *Full disclaimer - Daikon is a super potent radish with a very distinct smell. The longer it ferments, the more you can smell it but don’t let that shy you away! These pickles are amazing.
The dressing is also very simple and can be made with ingredients that should already be in your pantry or fridge. Adding chives to the bowl of dressing infuses it with the delcious and delicate onion flavor so making this dressing earlier in your cooking time is totally ok! I use a variation of this dressing for any salad that has Asian flavors or ingredients going on in it. Use it with salmon bowls, a simple soba salad, or a crunchy green salad with asian inspiration. You can’t go wrong
Step 3 - Prep the noodles and vegetables
Slicing up the vegetables to make up the rest of the bowl in this dish is easy, easy, EASY. You don’t have to use every vegetable you see here but also feel free to experiment and add your own variations! Do you want rice instead of noodles? Go for it. Soba instead of rice vermicelli? Do it. No noodles? No carbs at all? Why not! The options are limitless and the fun of it is building a bowl you will really love the taste of and enjoy.
You can also use the leftover veggies or protein to make a Banh Mi sandwich or a quick stir fry the next day so that nothing goes to waste. It couldn’t get easier.
I stuck with vegetables that are common in Vietnamese recipes - cucumbers, cabbage, red pepper and the delcious and aromatic cilantro! If you don’t like cilantro, what are you doing here? Ha ha! I kid. But seriously, these fresh and summery vegetables are perfect for hot weather and you can find them anywhere and everywhere.
Step 4 - Cook the chicken and prepare your bowl
In an effort to try and eat healthier and get ready for my upcoming Hawaiian adventure, I decided to go with usually boring chicken breast for this! Have no fear. That marinade you made earlier will totally take a previously bland and plain chicken breast and transform it into something magical.
As soon as you are done prepping all the ingredients you are ready to cook the chicken that has been marinating. Feel free to cook it anyway you’d like. You can saute it, grill it or use a cast iron skillet. I decided to grill it on my stovetop with a grill pan. Just remember, you want that beautiful sear and caramelization to happen so make sure your pan is heated through and you do not touch it until you are ready to flip!
5-7 minutes on each side should be all it takes but to be sure you can test it with an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat. 165 Fahrenheit is what you are looking for. If you like to live dangerously, take it off the heat at 160 and let the last 5 degrees rise while it’s resting. You’ll get juicier chicken but remember to stay safe! Never serve undercooked chicken.
That wasn’t so bad was it? I promise, you won’t be disappointed with this recipe. You will be so happy with your results when you are done and will feel like a rockstar in the kitchen without feeling like you need a culinary degree! Let’s get started and make some food!
Recipe for Vietnamese Grilled Chicken Bowl
Vietnamese Grilled Chicken Bowl
Prep Time – 30 Min Active Time – 15 Min
For the Chicken Marinade:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tsp fresh grated ginger
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
Zest of ½ lime
1 lime, juiced
½ bunch cilantro tender stems roughly chopped
¼ cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Tbs Fish Sauce
2 Tbs Raw Sugar
1 tsp red chili paste
1 Tbs sesame oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
For the Pickles:
1 Medium Daikon Radish, julienned
1 Medium Carrot, julienned
½ jalapeno, julienned (optional)
½ cup filtered water
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 Tbs raw sugar
Heavy pinch kosher salt
For the Dressing:
¼ cup Low Sodium Soy
1 Tbs dark sesame oil
1 Tbs Honey
2 Tbs Rice Vinegar
1 lime, juiced
½ bunch scallion greens, sliced
Soba or Rice Noodles cooked according to package directions
1 C sliced cabbage, napa, purple, or green
½ Red Pepper, seeded and diced
1 English cucumber, seeded and sliced into half moons
½ bunch scallion greens, sliced
½ bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
½ jalapeno, seeded and sliced (optional)
Step 1 – In a medium or large mixing bowl combine all ingredients except chicken, scallions and cilantro into the marinade. Mix well until sugar is dissolved and all wet ingredients are mixed. Set aside
Pound chicken into even thickness, season lightly with salt and pepper and add to the chicken marinade along with the scallions and cilantro. Combine until chicken is completely coated in marinade. Cover and chill until ready to cook
Step 2 – Combine all wet ingredients for the pickle brine and mix until sugar is dissolved. Add daikon carrot and jalapeno. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Combine all the wet dressing ingredients until honey is dissolved, add scallions. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Cook noodles according to package directions. Set aside.
Step 3 – Heat a large skillet or grill pan on Medium heat and spray evenly with a neutral oil or add 1 Tbs of a neutral oil to the pan. When oil is shimmering, add chicken. Cook 5-7 min, flip and repeat. Do not touch the chicken while it is searing until it is ready to flip. Remove once chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 Fahrenheit. Tent with foil and rest 10 minutes.
Step 4 – Assemble your bowl. Add noodles to the center, add pickles, vegetables and chicken around the bowl. Dress with the dressing and garnish with cilantro, jalapeno and scallion greens. Serve with an extra wedge of lime and plenty of chili sauce. Enjoy!
Video How-To for Vietnamese Grilled Chicken Bowl
Make it vegan/vegetarian - skip the meat and fish sauce, substitute the protein for tofu, seitan, or any other meat substitute
Make it gluten free - use rice vermicelli noodles, switch out any use of soy sauce for Tamari
Left over ideas:
Make Banh Mi sandwiches the next day - french bread and mayo is all you need. Stuff all the veggies, pickles and chicken into the bread and you’re done!
Stir Fry everything together and toss the dressing in!
Skip the noodles and eat a salad - toss with leafy green lettuce and extra cabbage