Vietnamese Chicken Vermicelli Coleslaw

Vietnamese Chicken Vermicelli Coleslaw

This is not a traditional Vietnamese chicken coleslaw because of the addition of vermicelli and the use of pickled radishes but I see it as me bringing my Australian Vietnamese Chinese heritage into play and channeling a little of my mother who isn’t known for sticking to “rules” when it comes to food. The key to this dish is the fish sauce dressing and when making it, you should see the amounts as a guide and make sure to taste and adjust as necessary. A version of this recipe was published in the Bank of Melbourne 2016 e-book but there were errors in that recipe and it drives me nuts that a version like that exists out there.


Pickled radishes

3 small radishes, ends removed and thinly sliced with a mandolin
3 tbs caster sugar
4 tbs rice wine vinegar
3 tbs water

Pickled carrots

1 large carrot, peeled
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/2 tsp salt


3 tbs good quality fish sauce
3 garlic cloves
1-2 bird’s eye chilli
2-3tbs lemon juice (or white vinegar)
6 tbs water
2-3 tbs sugar


5 medium sized chicken drumsticks
1/4 purple cabbage, finely shredded
150g rice vermicelli
1 cup coriander, roughly chopped
1/2 cup Vietnamese mint, roughly torn
½ cup Thai basil, roughly torn
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
Toasted peanuts, roughly crushed
Fried shallots


The pickles need to be made a few hours beforehand. To make the pickled radish: mix sugar, rice wine vinegar and water together till sugar is dissolved. Add radishes to the mixture and refrigerate till needed. To make pickled carrots: using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrots to create long ribbons. In a bowl dissolve salt and sugar in the white vinegar and then submerge carrot ribbons in the pickling mixture, refrigerate till needed.

Place chicken drumsticks in a pot of cold water and bring to just under boiling. Turn heat down immediately to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Take the pot off the stove and set aside with the lid on and the chicken will continue to cook. Remove a drumstick after 10 minutes and check to see if it’s cooked through. Once ready, remove chicken drumsticks and set aside. When the chicken has cooled enough to handle, remove meat from the bone and tear into large pieces.

To make dressing: using a pestle, mince the garlic and chilli in a mortar. Add fish sauce, sugar, lemon juice (or vinegar) and water – stir and adjust sauce by adding extra fish sauce, sugar and lemon juice to get the right balance of sweet, salty and sour.

To cook vermicelli, place the noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Place a lid on top for 5 minutes or till the noodles just soften. Once noodles are ready, drain and refresh with cold water before setting it aside.

To assemble salad, drain the pickled radish and carrot and add to a large salad bowl with cabbage, herbs, vermicelli and chicken. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of dressing and mix the ingredients thoroughly. Sprinkle peanuts and shallots over the salad and drizzle more dressing over the top. Toss well before serving.