Katrina Meynink's Vietnamese tomato salad with poached chicken and crispy vermicelli

This Vietnamese-inspired salad is bursting with flavour.
This Vietnamese-inspired salad is bursting with flavour. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Dietary
Gluten-free

This is my favourite way to eat summer tomatoes. The tang of fish sauce and lime juice makes the fruit burst with flavour. I haven't added chilli here, instead I went heavy on cracked pepper and the bite of Vietnamese mint to add an element of heat. If you don't have any Vietnamese mint to hand, sub in some garden mint and finely sliced red chilli.

Ingredients

500g medley cherry tomatoes, halved

250g mini cucumbers, sliced into rounds

½ small red onion, finely sliced

400g shredded chicken (from 3-4 thighs, if poaching – see note)

½ cup chopped coriander

½ cup Vietnamese mint leaves, coarsely torn

¼ cup crispy fried shallots

1 cup rice vermicelli noodles, coarsely broken into 5cm lengths

½ cup neutral cooking oil

Dressing

⅓ cup fish sauce (check gluten-free if required)

⅓ cup lime juice

zest of 1 lime

⅓ cup caster sugar

Method

1. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside for the sugar to dissolve.

2. Place a frying pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once shimmering, add the noodles to the hot oil – be careful as it may spit. Cook for 1-2 seconds – the vermicelli should puff immediately. Using a pair of tongs, turn so all the noodles puff and take on a slightly light golden colour. Remove using the tongs and place on a plate lined with paper towel.

3. Add the tomatoes, chicken and dressing to a bowl. Toss gently to combine. The lime juice and fish sauce make the tomatoes juice, so there will be quite a bit of liquid, there is no need to worry. Let it sit for 5 minutes for the flavours to infuse.

4. Add the fresh herbs and crispy vermicelli noodles. Season generously with cracked pepper and use your hands to gently toss together. Top with fried shallots and another burst of cracked pepper and serve immediately.

Note: I poached some chicken thighs in coconut milk and chicken stock (I used 400ml can of coconut milk and 400ml of stock). If you would like to do the same – simply add to a saucepan, bring to the boil then turn to a simmer for 5 minutes before letting the chicken cool in the poaching liquid before shredding.