Ready in 1 hour
The blending of flavors (Sweet, Sour, Spicy, Satly) in this dish are a trademark of Vietnamese dishes.
1. Soak vermicelli, if using, in a bowl of cold water for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine chopped chile pepper or red-pepper flakes, sugar, lime juice, 2 T of the vinegar, and fish sauce. Stir well to dissolve sugar. Set aside.
2. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drain vermicelli and add to boiling water; cook for 2 minutes. If using somen, add dry noodles to boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Drain noodles and transfer to a bowl of cold water. Set aside.
3. Peel carrots and, using a sharp zester, cut into long, thin threads. Use a vegetable peeler to "peel" entire cucumber into long, thin strips. Cut strips lengthwise into thinner strips, about 1/4 inch wide.
4. Combine carrots, cucumber, cabbage, lettuce, and bean sprouts in a mixing bowl and toss with remaining vinegar. Set aside.
5. Remove tenderloin (meat attached to underside of breast) from chicken breasts; save for another use. Place breasts between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat tenderizer or cleaver, pound breasts ? inch thick.
6. Heat grill or grill pan and brush with oil. Season chickcn on both sides with salt and pepper, and grill until cooked through and juices run clear, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from grill and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.
7. Drain noodles well. Divide salad mixture among 4 plates. Top each with a quarter of the noodles. Slice chicken breasts lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick strips and place on salads. Set out fish-sauce mixture, mint and cilantro leaves, and chopped peanuts in separate bowls, for dressing and garnishing individual salads.
Adapted from: Martha Stewart Living/August/94
Makes an excellent "hot day" lunch or light dinner.