Thai Noodle Salad w/ Coconut Milk-Poached Chicken, Avocado, Bok Choy & Honey-Ginger Dressing

Anyone out there crazy about salad like I am?  ……..
…………….. if so, you’re going to love this one – it’s definitely one of my favorites! With tender chicken poached in a delicious coconut milk/ginger bath, beautiful, crunchy baby bok choy, velvety sweet mango, creamy avocado and a plethora of fresh herbs, it definitely takes a stand in my salad-hall-of-fame!

I think it’s the bright, sweet-spicy dressing that takes this one right over the top. I’ve always been a big sucker for the Asian Salad at Panera Reataurant. Unintentionally, while tinkering around in the kitchen, I think I’ve come up with a dressing very similar to theirs. I enhanced it with tiny delicious bits of red bell pepper, ginger and minced cilantro. It’s bright, fresh and well, …….just plain delightful. I can see that I will be keeping a jar of this delicious stuff in my fridge – it will make any combination of salad ingredients pop with vibrant flavor!

I’ve made the dressing twice now, the second time substituting Splenda for the sugar. I honestly couldn’t tell a big difference, plus it saves a few calories and carbs. You could also replace the honey with agave nectar, which has a much lower glycemic index ) for you carb-watchers) but I haven’t tried that yet.

The salad is delicious with or without the noodles. I piled it over linguini pasta yesterday and served it to guests on a large pretty platter with dressing on the side. It made a lovely spring lunch with dear friends on their patio as we enjoyed the warm sunshine and soft, balmy breezes.


P.S. This salad is very versatile. It can be served with or without the noodles, as I mentioned, but it can also be a delicious vegetarian meal or a side salad without the chicken. The vegetables can be whatever you have or what looks the freshest at your local market. I have given specific amounts for the chicken and the dressing, but left the vegetable types and amounts up to your taste and what you have available. Bon Appétit!

Thai Noodle Salad w/ Coconut Milk-Poached Chicken, Avocado, Bok Choy & Honey-Ginger Dressing

Ingredients for the chicken:

1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast 
14 ounce can coconut milk, I love the Trader Joe’s “light” coconut milk.
2 tablespoons fish sauce, available in most larger grocery stores in the Asian section
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh ginger
Ingredients for the dressing:
⅓ cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablesoons sugar
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
½ teaspoon sriracha chili sauce*
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
sea salt
½ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro 
Suggested ingredients for the salad:
cooked linguini or fettuccine (drizzle with 1 teapsoon sesame oil after cooking and toss to coat)
baby bok choy, halved or quartered, depending on size
green onions, sliced diagonally into 1″ chunks
sugar snap peas, halved diagonally
avocado, halved, pitted and sliced lengthwise in 1/4″ slices
mango, peeled, pitted and sliced in 1/4″ slices, then slices halved diagonally
roasted, salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
fresh mint leaves
fresh basil leaves
cilantro leaves

Directions for the chicken:
1. Slice each chicken breast in half horizontally to form two thin slices.

2. Place coconut milk, brown sugar, fish sauce and ginger in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a simmer. Simmer 2-3 minutes until sugar is dissolved. Add chicken, return to a slow simmer for 8-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and allow to cool. After cooled, slice chicken and place in a bowl. Set aside.

Directions for the dressing:
1. Combine all dressing ingredients except oil, red bell pepper and cilantro in a medium size glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well to dissolve sugar and combine ingredients. Add oil in a slow steady stream while constantly stirring dressing with a small whisk or a fork. Add red bell pepper and cilantro and stir. Shake to combine before serving.

Directions for the salad:
1. Prepare salads on individual dinner plates or on a large platter by layering ingredients in this order; pasta, veggies, mango, avocado, chicken, chopped peanuts, fresh herbs. I like to combine the chicken with about a tablespoon of the dressing in a zippered bag or covered glass bowl and microwave on medium for a minute to warm slightly before adding to the salad. Drizzle salad lightly with dressing and pass extra at the table.

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