Since the first time I had a rice paper-wrapped summer roll, I have loved the flavors that were brought to the US from countries like Vietnam and Thailand. This warm Asian Chicken Salad is inspired by those Southeast Asian flavors and brings the full flavor profile – herby, savory, sweet and spicy – all in a one bowl meal.
Southeast Asian Inspired Not Authentic
I want to honor the true cuisines of this region by saying this is purely a recipe I made up that has the typical flavor profiles. It is in no way a true recipe from any Southeast Asian country. I just truly love how so many different flavors can come together and create such a harmony. The typical flavors you will experience in most dishes is a mixture of sweet, sour, spicy and salty. Sometimes there are other flavors like ginger or garlic, but the overall profile is these four. You will also notice there is almost always a mixture of both cooked and raw ingredients. For instance with Pho, there will be a plate of fresh herbs to use as you will. Fresh herbs play a part in most of the dishes with mint, Thai basil and cilantro being the primary herbs.
Can This Asian Chicken Salad Be Served Cold?
While the zoodles, garlic and ginger are lightly cooked before the sauce is added, you can certainly cook the zoodles just barely then toss everything together and serve cold. If it’s a colder time of year, warmer may be better, but in the late Spring and Summer, you can certainly chill it, then serve either room temperature or cold.
Can I Make Asian Chicken Salad without Chicken?
Absolutely. Leaving out the chicken will make it a wonderful side dish for grilled meats or seafood. Or by adding edamame instead of chicken along with extra chopped almonds or cashews, you can make it a fairly substantial vegan main dish. Jackfruit would mimic the shredded chicken perfectly, but does not provide substantial protein so if you choose to use this for the texture, do include edamame and extra nuts and seeds if you are eating this as a vegan main course. If you prefer seafood over chicken, substitute cooked shrimp for the chicken.
Easy Version of Asian Chicken Salad
I’ve recently discovered the Primal Kitchen Brand of Paleo and Whole30 approved products. This company is a game-changer for those following Paleo or Whole30 who want to eat food with lots of flavor. Their No Soy Teriyaki Sauce has almost identical ingredients to my DIY Teriyaki Sauce. While the recipe below is easy enough, if you need the ultimate easy version of this Asian Chicken Salad with Zoodles, you can use the following instead:
- Equal parts Primal Kitchen No Soy Teriyaki Sauce and Almond Butter thinned until pourable with warm water. (I used 1/2 cup each)
- Rotisserie Chicken, pre-grilled chicken or cooked shrimp instead of cooked, pulled chicken
- Packaged Zoodles (like Cece’s brand) and packaged coleslaw mix
Lightly heat chicken with a little of the teriyaki sauce until hot. Add the Zoodles and coleslaw mix and barely cook. Serve topped with the almond sauce and sesame seeds. If you have fresh herbs, scatter them on top, too.
How to Make Paleo Southeast Asian Chicken Salad Two Ways
- Almond Sauce
1/4 cup almond butter (or any nut/seed butter)
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp coconut aminos
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp chile garlic paste or to taste
- Warm Asian Chicken Salad with Zoodles
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1 pkg zucchini noodles
3 cups shredded chicken
2 cups assorted crunchy vegetables cut into matchsticks (radish, carrots, cucumber, etc.)
Fresh herbs – cilantro, basil and/or mint
Sesame seeds for garnish
- Almond Sauce
- Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl and set aside. If it’s not pourable, add a little warm water until it is the consistency of thick cream.
- Asian Chicken Salad
- Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet.
- Add the ginger and garlic and stir fry for a minute or two then add zucchini noodles.
- Toss to coat with the oil, ginger and garlic, then add the chicken and almond sauce.
- Toss to coat everything with the almond sauce.
- For a warm salad, add all the crunchy veggies to the pan and toss to incorporate. For a cold salad, let the mixture cool before adding crunchy veggies.
- Add half the herbs and toss.
- Serve the salad topped with remaining herbs and sesame seeds.
- See paragraph above recipe for the Super Easy Version.
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