Chinese Chicken Salad
This main course salad is better than takeout and full of fresh flavors
Chinese Chicken Salad is an American classic lunchtime favorite thanks to its sweet-and-savory flavor and crunchy and crispy textures. It's usually served with chicken either grilled, poached, or hacked, and something crunchy and crispy is always featured, be it nuts or noodles, or both. A crisp lettuce or cabbage base and oranges are a must. The recipe that follows highlights all my favorite elements, a composite of the many versions I have enjoyed over years. I suggest a delicious marinated grilled chicken breast, but a salad like this is made for leftover chicken of any kind.
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; mixing bowls; measuring spoons; dry and wet measuring cups; grill or grill pan; tongs
Chicken Marinade Ingredients:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 tablespoon brown sugar or agave
1 teaspoon dry mustard 1 teaspoon ground ginger (or 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger)
1 teaspoon granulated garlic (or 2 garlic cloves, minced)
½ teaspoon kosher salt ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 chicken breasts, boneless/skinless
4 grilled chicken breasts, chopped
2 hearts of Romaine, cleaned and trimmed
3 small oranges, peeled and sliced or sectioned
½ hothouse cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly crosswise 1 cup sugar snap peas, julienne 2 large carrots, peeled, cut into thick matchsticks
4 scallions, thinly sliced on bias
"To clean and trim Romaine hearts, first cut away the roots and discard. Then trim 2 inches off the tops (the dark green) and discard. Rinse the trimmed leaves under cool water to clean, then dry thoroughly in a salad spinner or set on a clean dish towel to drain."
1. First, marinate the chicken breasts. Combine the marinade ingredients in a mixing bowl and add the chicken breasts, stirring well to coat evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes up to four hours.
2. To cook the chicken, heat a grill or grill pan over high heat. When hot, brush the grill with vegetable oil using a heatproof brush. Place the chicken breasts on the grill and do not move them. Let them cook for 3-4 minutes before turning on the other side. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed. Set aside to cool before serving or storing.
3. Now, it's time to prepare the salad. First, prepare the lettuce. Stack several lettuce leaves and cut them into fourths vertically, then crosswise to make 1-inch sized bites. Place in a large mixing bowl.
ILOC tip: the chicken can be grilled and stored in the refrigerator up to three days before assembling the salad.
4. Once the chicken is cooled, cut into ½-inch cubes and add the to the lettuce. Mix in the oranges, cucumber slices, julienned sugar snaps, matchstick carrots, and half the scallions.
5. Toss the lettuce with the dressing. Add more dressing if desired, and toss in the honey walnuts.
6. Divide the salad among four shallow bowls or plates. Top with the remaining scallions and crispy noodles, if using, and more honey walnuts, if desired. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
Baked-not-Fried Crispy Wonton Noodles
To make your own crispy noodles without the burden of frying them, cut wonton wrappers into strips. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and brush generously with vegetable oil. Place the wonton strips on the greased sheet pan and bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.