Thai glass noodle salad with chicken (Gai Yum Woon Sen) is a delicious recipe made with thin glass noodles, fresh vegetables, herbs, lime juice, fish sauce, ground pork, and chicken.
Not only is this recipe easy to make, but it is also light and healthy, making it one of the most refreshing salads in Thai cuisine!
Check out this easier version of the Yum Woon Sen with Shrimp recipe for more glass noodles recipes. I also created this version for leftover turkey, but you can use roasted meat like chicken, pork, ham, or duck—Yum Woon Sen with Roasted turkey.
- Why this recipe works
- The ingredient list and substitutions
- What are Glass Noodles?
- How to make Thai glass noodle salad with chicken
- Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- Variations on the Yum Woon Sen recipe
- Substitutions for vegetarians
- Storage for leftover glass noodle salad
- Thai glass noodles salad with chicken (Yum Woon Sen)
Why this recipe works
- It's healthy! This is one of the healthy recipes in the Thai cuisine!
- It's quick and easy to make! Combine the chicken, chop the fresh herbs, and season with lime juice and fish sauce.
- It's easily adaptable for vegetarians. Add tofu or tempeh for your protein option.
- Choose your protein option! Use minced meat like minced pork, chicken, turkey, cooked shrimp, squid, chicken, pork, beef, or turkey. Very flexible!
- Easy to find most of the ingredients at most local grocery stores! A bonus and saves a trip to the Asian market for other recipes. (:
The ingredient list and substitutions
- Glass noodles. The main ingredient used in this type of Thai salad. They are made from mung bean starch giving the noodles their clear glassy look.
- Chicken. Use chicken breast or thighs for this recipe.
- Ground meat. You can use your favorite protein like pork, turkey, duck, or beef.
- Dried shrimp. Another added protein that adds a salty and umami flavor to the salad. Find these at the Asian grocery store. See the substitution section below for an extra tip.
- Chinese celery. Italian parsley works great as a substitute. Or use regular celery but only the young leafy parts and some of the tender stems.
- Cilantro. Use both the stems and the leafy parts for flavors and textures.
- Mint. Mint gives this salad a fresh and herbaceous taste. It adds a summer and refreshing flavor that is well-loved to the flavors of Yum Woonsen.
- Shallot. Use red onion as a substitute.
- Fish sauce. Hard to find a substitute for fish sauce. Soy sauce is never used in an authentic Yum Woonsen salad. Use salt instead if fish sauce is not available.
- Lime juice. Fresh lemon juice works well too.
- Sugar. Use white, brown, or palm sugar. Use a tiny amount to add the perfect balance to the salad.
- Chili peppers. Use fresh or dry red pepper flakes to add heat to the salad.
- Nuts. Use crunchy peanuts or cashew for added texture to the salad. This is optional.
What are Glass Noodles?
Glass noodles are thin clear noodles made from the starchy parts of ingredients (tapioca, potato, mung beans) and mixed with water to form the translucent look of the noodles. These glass noodles usually come in a dried packet, and the noodles always need to soak in water before cooking.
They are sometimes called silver noodles, mung bean threads, clear noodles, mung bean vermicelli, mung bean noodles, or chewy glass noodles. Read more about different types of Thai rice noodles in this very helpful blog post here.
How to make Thai glass noodle salad with chicken
Yum Woon Sen is so easy to make--you can whip it up in 30 minutes or less. Trust me. You will want to have this recipe on your summer recipe rotations! (:
Step 1. Add water to a boil in a stock pot. Add the chicken to the boiling water and cook for 10 minutes. Skim the foam if necessary. Remove the chicken to a platter and let it rest at room temperature before slicing it into bite-size pieces. DO NOT discard the water yet. The cooking water will be used to add to the salad and soak the noodles next.
Step 2. Use the same (mini-stock) water to soak the rice vermicelli noodles for 4-5 minutes or until soft. Use a large heatproof bowl for soaking the noodles. Once the noodles are soft, rinse with cold water. Cut the long noodles with a kitchen scissor to about 5-6 inches. Add the softened noodles to a large bowl, and set aside to be mixed with the rest of the ingredients.
Step 3. This step is optional, but use the same water to soak the dried shrimp. Soak them for only a few minutes, 5 minutes or so, just until the shrimp can hydrate back a tiny bit. If not soaked, the dried shrimp will be on the chewy side. If the texture doesn't bother you, there is no need to soak. I've done both and loved each method. (: The tiny shrimp are amazing as a low-fat protein snack!
Step 4. Next, cook the ground meat. You can do this step while waiting for the water to boil to speed up cooking time. Add a tablespoon of oil to a skillet at high heat. Stir fry the ground meat for about 4-5 minutes or until the meat is browned. Add 2 teaspoons of fish sauce to the meat, stir, and turn the heat off. Remove from the pan and let cool.
Step 5. Chop all the vegetables and herbs, then add all the ingredients to a large mixing bowl with glass noodles. Use salad spoons or forks and stir well. Add the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and chili flakes. Add more lime juice or fish sauce as desired. That’s it! Enjoy!
Garnishing options. Add roasted peanuts, cilantro, lime wedges, and black or white pepper.
Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- You can make the salad dressing ahead of time! Mix the fish sauce, lime juice, stock and sugar, and chilis in a small container and store for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
- If unable to find dried shrimp, use 3-4 cooked fresh shrimp instead. Chop them into small pieces, season them lightly with ½ teaspoon of fish sauce or a pinch of salt, and add them to the salad.
- If using Thai hot chili peppers, mince them into small pieces so as not to have too big of a spicy bite!
Variations on the Yum Woon Sen recipe
- Spiciness level adjustable. Yum wooden is a cold refreshing salad. Most Thais love to eat it spicy. You can adjust the spice level according to how you prefer your salads. Add little to no peppers to your liking. (: Ground white peppers have a kick of heat and add a unique taste. Slice up Jalapenos, Serranos, fresh Thai chilis, and other spicy peppers for spicy food lovers! The recipe is flexible and will not take away from the original flavors.
- For added vegetables. Use cherry tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and green onion for more vegetable options. Thinly sliced crunchy vegetables like bean sprouts, cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, onions, and celery are best for this Thai glass noodle salad recipe.
Substitutions for vegetarians
- For the vegetarian version. To make a vegetarian version, use ground-up tofu instead of ground meat and thinly sliced crispy or fried tofu for the chicken breast.
- Dried shrimp. Instead of dried shrimp, use 3-4 cooked large shrimp seasoned with ¼ inch of salt, chopped into small pieces around ¼ inch, and use that in the salad!
- Fish. Fish is not typically used in Thai salads, but firm fish that can hold its texture well will work. Pan-fried, grilled, or deep-fried are best.
- Seafood. Seafood is a great option to add to this salad. Blanch raw shrimp, squid, or crab meat in a pot of hot water, then quickly submerge it in a bowl of cold water and use it in the salad. There's a Yum Woon Sen Talay recipe using only seafood. Recipe coming shortly!
Storage for leftover glass noodle salad
Yum Woon Sen Thai glass noodles salad is best served fresh. This recipe generously serves 4-6 people. It’s a great dish for a dinner party or potluck, and you can easily double up the batch. It saves well as a leftover for the next meal, but I wouldn’t recommend longer than that as all the raw fresh vegetables will get soggy and brown. Store the leftover salad in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 1-day maximum.
This Thai noodle salad is called Yum Woon Sen in Thai. The Thai word for “glass noodle” is “Woon Sen,” while “Yum” means “mixed” (the ingredients), like in a salad. Yum Woon Sen is a cold Thai noodle salad with clear glass noodles. Add your choice of protein, seasoned with a spicy fish sauce and lime juice dressing.
These thin rice noodles have many names: bean thread, cellophane, and clear noodles. You can find them easily in Asian Markets and many American grocery stores in the Asian/International section. You can read more about the different types of Thai rice noodles here.
Yes! Glass noodles are healthier than many other types of noodles used in cooking. Glass noodles are gluten-free and fat-free and have lower carbs than rice noodles or pasta, making them one of the healthier noodles for use in many recipes. They are extra light when used in making a salad. This recipe is a great addition as a staple dish when wanting a healthy meal with great flavors.
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