Peanut Lime Chicken with Napa Cabbage

Peanut Lime Chicken with this Vietnamese-inspired peanut lime sauce on it is one of the best things you’ll ever eat.

Vietnamese inspired flavors in this peanut lime sauce work really well with tofu, Napa cabbage, shrimp, chicken, and whatever else strikes your fancy. This recipe can easily be made vegan/vegetarian and is gluten free (if you buy gluten free soy sauce and fish sauce).

I sometimes double the dressing and sauce recipes and add fresh vegetables over a grain bowl for several days in a row.

Peanut Lime Chicken with Napa Cabbage

Servings 6
Author Tania Van Pelt


Dipping Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • tablespoons soy sauce
  • tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves grated or minced
  • Small Thai or Serrano chiles seeded, thinly sliced, to taste

Lime Peanut Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 one-and-a-half inch chunk ginger peeled, and sliced
  • 6 tablespoons natural unsalted peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Chicken & Napa Cabbage

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs about 4-5
  • 1 package organic extra firm organic tofu, sliced
  • 1 head napa cabbage chopped into strips or 8 ounces dried rice vermicelli or other rice noodles
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 2 medium carrots grated
  • 1 cup celery chopped
  • 1 cup basil mint, cilantro sprigs, or your favorite of the three (roughly chopped)
  • 1 avocado sliced
  • 4 or more scallions slivered
  • Lime wedges to serve


  1. Make the dipping sauce: Whisk ingredients in a small serving bowl. Leave to ripen for 15 minutes to 24 hours. Refrigerate any extra and use within a few days.
  2. Make the peanut dressing: In a blender or small food processor, puree all ingredients to a smooth sauce, about the thickness of heavy cream. Pour into a serving bowl.
  3. Marinate the chicken and the tofu: Stir together ⅓ the dipping sauce and ¼ the peanut dressing (you can eyeball this) in the bottom of a low-sided bowl or dish. Add the chicken to the mixture and toss to coat. In a separate dish, stir ¼ dipping sauce and ¼ peanut dressing and add the tofu. Let marinate at least 15 minutes. You can marinate it for up to 24 hours. (I like it marinated longer but it tastes good even if you only have 15 minutes.)
  4. Slice the napa cabbage
  5. IF you’re also using rice noodles, cook the noodles: Bring a large pot of water to the boil, then turn off the heat. Add the rice vermicelli and soak for 7 to 8 minutes. (Package directions may vary; check for doneness by tasting.) Drain when noodles are al dente, and cool under running water. Fluff and leave in strainer to drain well. Toss noodles with a little black sesame oil, and if you have them, sprinkle sesame seeds.
  6. Cook the chicken: Grill the chicken on an outdoor grill, a stove-top grill pan, or run under the broiler until nicely browned, about 3 to 4 minutes a side. Let it rest, about 10 minutes, then chop roughly into 3/4-inch pieces.
  7. To SERVE: Toss vegetables with 1 tablespoon dipping sauce in a small bowl. Divide the napa cabbage or cooked noodles among 4 bowls. Pour a tablespoon of the dipping and peanut sauces over the cabbage and noodles. Top with the chicken and tofu. On top of this, in each bowl, add with vegetable mixture. Add the herbs, bean sprouts and scallions to each bowl, top with slices of avocado, and add 2 teaspoons of each sauce – the dipping sauce and dressing. Adding more to taste, if you like. Serve with additional dressing and dipping sauce on the side. Serve with wedges of lime.

Recipe Notes

You’ll need about 8 limes.
You can easily make this vegan. Serve with the tofu only and a vegan version of fish sauce, using dried mushrooms and seaweed to make this sauce.