Chicken and Avocado Vietnamese Salad

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When it’s hot out, how better to cool down than with a fresh summer salad? This dish pairs ripe California Avocados with bold Vietnamese flavors. Start with a mound of crunchy Napa cabbage topped with slices of grilled chicken, cubes of cool avocado and tangy pickled carrots and radish. Then drizzle over a punchy dressing made with fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, vinegar, garlic and ginger. Finish with a scattering of fresh herbs. The rich avocado helps to balance out all of the bold flavors, making each bite a pure delight.


The ingredient list for this recipe may look long, but luckily, many of the same ingredients are used in each of the elements. The pickles, dressing and chicken can all be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to serve, making last minute assembly a snap!


Pickled carrots and daikon radish are a staple in Vietnamese cuisine. They’re really easy to prepare as well! I start by peeling carrots and daikon, and then shredding with a julienne peeler. If you don’t have one of these, you can cut into matchsticks using a knife or even just shred on a box grater. The carrots and radish are then tossed in salt, sugar and vinegar. You can enjoy these pickles after just 15 minutes, but of course, they’ll get even better with a little time.

The grilled chicken here also gets the Vietnamese treatment with the help of a simple marinade made with fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and garlic. Fish sauce is a pungent liquid made from fermented fish. I wouldn’t recommend smelling the stuff, but it’s a really incredible ingredient that adds a saltiness and umami to the chicken. As the chicken cooks on the grill, the sugars in the marinade caramelize, forming a delicious, golden crust.


Chicken and Avocado Vietnamese Salad Recipe

For the chicken:
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
1 Fresno chile (or jalapeno), chopped
2 bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed (boneless would be fine here too)

For the pickles:
3/4 cup shredded peeled carrots (I used a julienne peeler)
3/4 cup shredded peeled daikon radish
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the dressing:
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
1 fresno chile, seeds removed, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup water

For the salad:
8 cups shaved Napa cabbage
2 ripe California Avocados, skin and seeds removed, diced
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Torn mint leaves, for garnish


  1. Start by marinating the chicken. Add fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic and chile to a medium bowl, whisking to combine and dissolve the sugar. Place chicken in a large zip top bag along with marinade, and seal shut. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, turning the bag over every hour (if possible).
  2. While the chicken is marinating, prepare the pickles. Add carrots, radish, rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt to a medium bowl, tossing to combine. Let sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  3. Also prepare the dressing in advance. Combine fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar and rice wine vinegar in a medium bowl, whisking to combine and dissolve the sugar. Stir in garlic, ginger, chile and water. Let sit for at least 15 minutes. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  4. Prepare an outdoor grill. Cooking big chicken breasts requires both direct and indirect heat. If using a charcoal grill, pile up your coals on one half of the grill. The side with the coals will be used for direct heat cooking, and the cooler side will be used for indirect heat. If using a gas grill, preheat one side of the grill on high, and leave the other side off (no heat). With either method, let the grill grate preheat for 15 minutes. Also, the grate should be cleaned and oiled just before cooking.
  5. Place the chicken over direct heat, and sear for 3 – 4 minutes per side. Move the chicken over to the indirect heat side, cover, and cook until the internal temperature reaches 160°F (25 – 30 minutes). Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes, then slice.
  6. To serve, divide cabbage, avocado and sliced chicken between 4 plates. Scatter pickles around each plate. Drizzle dressing evenly around the salads (including some of the chiles), and serve any extra at the table. Finish with a sprinkling of cilantro leaves and torn mint.

*Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.

Did You Know?

You can’t always tell if an avocado is ripe just by its color.

As with all fruits and vegetables, wash avocados before cutting. Check out our tips for how to choose and use California Avocados


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