Grilled Thai Chicken Salad is healthy and flavorful! Chicken thighs are marinated overnight in a thai inspired marinade and then grilled to perfection before being tossed in a salad of Napa and purple cabbage, green apple, red onion and fresh herbs. Serves 4 (generously) or 6!
I could eat this Grilled Thai Chicken Salad everyday of my life.
A few years ago I made a similar salad from my friend (and fellow food blogger) Brandy’s blog Nutmeg Nanny. I absolutely loved it. Her salad was a take on a recipe from Bon Appetit which called for shredded cooked chicken fried until crispy in 1/2 cup olive oil. Later, that olive oil was mixed with garlic and herbs and eventually turned into the dressing. You can imagine how delicious this is right?
Since I’m watching the amounts of oil I both cook with and consume, I decided to take a healthier approach. First the chicken marinates in a Thai-inspired marinade – reserving a little of the marinade for the dressing before being grilled. The thai grilled chicken thighs are then sliced and tossed with two types of cabbage, green apple, red onions and both fresh cilantro and mint. With that said, the original 1/2 cup of olive oil I previously mentioned was cut back drastically to 2 teaspoons!
And it still tastes deliciously similar to that beloved salad! I add some chopped peanuts and a squeeze of lime right before serving. SO good.
To Make the Chicken Marinade You Will Need:
- light brown sugar
- garlic (grated)
- ginger (grated)
- lemongrass (grated)
- chili paste (Sambal Oelek)
- white pepper
- lime juice
- rice wine
- toasted sesame oil
- boneless, skinless chicken thighs
In a medium mixing bowl, measure and add 1/4 cup light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon each grated fresh garlic, ginger and lemongrass, 1 to 2 teaspoon(s) sambal oelek and 1 teaspoon white pepper.
Squeeze in the juice of 1 to 2 limes – about 2 tablespoons, 2 tablespoons rice wine (like Shaoxing or sake) and 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil.
Whisk well to combine.
Reserve 3 tablespoons of the marinade.
Measure and whisk in 2 teaspoons light olive oil. This will become the dressing for the salad. Cover and refrigerate.
Place 1-1/2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs into the remaining marinade and toss well to coat. Cover tightly and refrigerated over night. If in a pinch, 2 to 4 hours will do.
To Make This Grilled Thai Chicken Salad You Will Need:
- grilled marinated thai chicken
- reserved dressing
- purple cabbage
- napa cabbage
- green apple
- red onion
- kosher salt
- chopped roasted peanuts, for garnish
Remove the chicken and dressing from your fridge. Uncover the chicken and let come up to room temperature for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, spray your grill with nonstick spray BEFORE preheating it to medium-high heat (about 500-600°).
Once your grill is hot, use tongs to lay the chicken thighs onto the hot grates. Grill or 3 to 4 minutes a side or until no longer pink and fully cooked. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool before slicing very thin.
In your largest mixing bowl, add 3 cup chopped purple cabbage, 3 cups chopped Napa cabbage, 1 green apple – sliced into matchsticks, 1/2 a medium red onion – sliced thin, 1/4 cup both chopped mint leaves and cilantro, zest and juice of 1 large lime .
Add in the (cooled) thinly sliced grilled Thai chicken.
Pour in a desired amount of dressing, toss and taste test, adding a few pinches of kosher salt to taste.
Serve a generous amount onto plates with a sprinkle of chopped roasted peanuts, extra cilantro and lime wedges.
Prepare your tastebuds.
I love the combination of the tart green apple with the cabbage and earthy herbs. The chicken alone is incredible but tossed with everything else make this salad magical.
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Grilled Thai Chicken Salad
FOR THE CHICKEN MARINADE:
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon garlic, grated (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon ginger, grated (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon lemongrass, grated (see notes)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons Sambal Oelek, chili garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
- 2 teaspoons extra light olive oil
FOR THE SALAD:
- 3 cups shredded red cabbage, about 1/2 a medium head
- 3 cups napa cabbage
- 1 green apple, sliced into matchsticks
- 1/2 medium red onion, sliced thin
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped, plus more for serving
- 1/4 cup mint, chopped
- 1 large lime, zest and juice
- reserved marinade/dressing
- a pinch of kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/3 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts
TO MAKE THE MARINADE:
- In a medium mixing bowl, measure and add light brown sugar, grated garlic, ginger and lemongrass, sambal oelek, white pepper, lime juice, rice wine and sesame oil. Whisk to combine.
- Reserve 3 tablespoons of the marinade and whisk in 2 teaspoons extra light olive oil. Cover and refrigerate. This is the dressing for the finished salad.
- Add in the chicken thighs to the remaining marinade and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours or overnight.
TO MAKE THE SALAD:
- When you're ready to grill, remove the chicken and reserved dressing from the fridge and let sit 20 minutes to take the chill off. You may need to stir the dressing if oil has solidified.
- Meanwhile lightly spray your grill grates with nonstick spray before preheating to 500-550°. During this time, also start to prep the salad ingredients.
- Once the grill is hot, place the chicken thighs down on the hot grates. Close the lid and grill 3 to 4 mintues. Watch carefully and adjust grill temp to avoid burning. Turn and repeat until the chicken is no longer pink and fully cooked.
- Transfer to a cutting board to rest and cool. Once cool, thinly slice.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the sliced cabbages, apple, onion, chopped cilantro and mint, zest and juice of 1 lime. Add in the (coooled) sliced chicken and toss thoroughly with the previously made dressing.
- Taste and add a pinch or two of kosher salt if needed.
- Serve generous portions on to plates or bowls and top with a tablespoon or so chopped peanuts, extra cilantro leaves and a squeeze (or two) of fresh lime juice.
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