Over the course of a very warm summer, I’ve sought various ways to stay cool: salads (obviously), cold drinks and cold main courses. While out for lunch last week, I was enjoying a vermicelli bowl at a Vietnamese place. It was essentially cool noodles with a julienne of various vegetables and chicken cooked in a flavourful sauce. Their sauce was, like many dishes across Southeast Asia, intensely flavoured and balanced with sweet, sour and savoury flavours.
With a variety of fresh fruit throughout the summer, I decided to try my own version of this Vietnamese cold salad using fresh plums as the base for my sauce and subsequent dressing.
Red Plum Chicken Vermicelli Salad
For the Red Plum Sauce:
2 red plums, halved, pitted and cut into rough chunks
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp honey
Place the plums and rice vinegar in a blender and purée until smooth. Pour the purée into a small saucepan. Add the honey and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Simmer the mixture until a thickened sauce is achieved. Set aside, leaving 2 tsp of the sauce aside in a separate bowl.
For the Red Plum Glazed Chicken:
1-1/2 cups cooked chicken, cut into 1cm (1/2″) cubes
Reserved larger portion of Red Plum Sauce
In a small saucepan, add the chicken and plum sauce. Simmer over medium high heat and stir constantly to coat and glaze the chicken. Be sure to stir quickly and keep over the heat for no more than 2-3 minutes so the chicken doesn’t overcook. Set aside.
For the salad:
1/2 cup julienne carrot
1/2 cup julienne cucumber
1/2 cup julienne green cabbage
100g/4 oz rice vermicelli, rehydrated in boiling water (I just use a kettle) for 20-25 minutes, cooled under cold, running water
Reserved Plum Glazed Chicken
Reserved smaller portion of Red Plum Sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
Divide the prepared rice vermicelli over two plates. Mound the julienne of carrots, cucumber and cabbage around the edges of the vermicelli. Divide the Plum Glazed Chicken in the centre of each plate.
Whisk together the smaller portion of plum sauce with the rice vinegar. Divide into two small serving bowls and serve with the salad as a dressing to pour over as it’s served. Serves 2.