What is goi ga?
The Vietnamese dish Goi Ga is simply a chicken salad. The dish contains marinated onion and fresh herbs. The more extensive variant, Goi Bap Cai Ga, also contains cabbage and sometimes carrot.
How the chicken is prepared does not really matter nowadays. Poached, grilled, stir-fried or steamed chicken, anything goes. Traditionally, however, the chicken is cooked with garlic and ginger root as a subtle seasoning in the cooking water.
The Vietnamese like to use up their leftover chicken in the Goi Ga, for example, after making Pho Ga (Pho with chicken). The salad is, therefore, regularly eaten when there is already some cooked chicken in the fridge.
The basic ingredients – chicken, onion, herbs and possibly cabbage, carrot and/or peanuts – always remain the same. In Vietnamese cuisine, however, people like to play with the proportions and the way the chicken is prepared. Extra chicken makes the salad more filling; extra cabbage and herbs make it healthier; a barbecued skin on the chicken makes it extra crispy. Toppings such as fried or vinegar-marinated shallots and fried garlic offer variety in texture and taste.
The dish is originally from southern Vietnam but is now made everywhere. How to make the most delicious Goi Ga is the subject of many heated discussions.
How to make goi ga
The traditional version is very simple. You tear some cooked chicken into shreds, chop a good amount of rau ram (Vietnamese coriander) or another herb of your choice and make a portion of hanh dam (wafer-thin half onion rings marinated in white wine or rice vinegar). The dressing is the commonly used Nuon Cham dipping sauce.
Do you want more vegetables in your salad? Then add thinly sliced white cabbage and, if necessary, add some carrot sliced carrot for a Goi Bap Cai Ga (chicken salad with cabbage). Vietnamese also like to scrape a thin slice of a banana flower through the salad.
How to eat
The salad is eaten hot or cold.
Why not try?
Fancy more chicken? Try the Vietnamese dish Cari Ca, a chicken curry. Chicken is also a key ingredient of American Caesar Salad.
Goi Ga is served in Vietnam with small round shrimp crackers next to it. A portion of prawn crackers with it is always welcome!