Crunchy vegetables, sweet and spicy dressing and shredded chicken make this Chinese chicken salad a light and easy summertime meal.
If you’re anything like me, perhaps you overindulged a bit over the holiday weekend? Well, as promised, today I’m sharing a recipe for a salad to get you back on track. But don’t worry, this salad is packed full of flavor and texture and won’t leave you feeling even a tiny bit deprived.
There are two things I miss most from our time living in the bay area: wonderfully fresh and simple Mexican food and Chinese chicken salads. These salads are everything you want in a bowl…crunchy vegetables, tender chicken, crispy toppings and a tangy dressing so good that you want to eat it all by itself from a spoon.
I’ve never found a version of a Chinese chicken salad back on the east coast that could hold a candle to those from our California days. So guess what? Time to make my own.
First off, Napa cabbage is a must. If you prefer, you can use a combination of Napa cabbage and Romaine lettuce, but I love the texture of the cabbage all by itself. It’s hearty and holds up well to the rich dressing without becoming limp and soggy. Carrots, cilantro, scallions, mint and orange segments add color and flavor; peanuts, sesame seeds and wonton crisps add crunch and texture. And of course the tender bites of chicken make it a meal. I like to use either poached chicken or rotisserie chicken, carefully shredded so it mixes well with the other ingredients.
And this dressing…well, it really is what seals the deal. It’s rich and creamy, sweet and salty and if I’m being honest, it’s even a little bit decadent. After all, we have to slowly ease back into reality after the weekend hijinks. And I’m not quite ready to give up all my indulgences just yet and thankfully with this salad, I don’t have to. Enjoy!
- Wonton Crisps
- 6 oz wonton wrappers sliced into 1/2 inch strips
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp Sriracha
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 3 inch piece of ginger grated
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 3 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 head Napa cabbage shredded
- 4 large carrots peeled and shredded
- 6 scallions sliced on the bias
- 1/2 cup cilantro minced
- 2 Tbsp fresh mint chopped
- 6 oranges segmented
- 2 lbs cooked and shredded chicken *see below for poached chicken instructions
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds toasted
- Chopped cilantro and mint for garnish
Wonton Crisps: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a sheet tray with parchment paper or nonstick foil.
Lay wonton strips in a single layer and drizzle with sesame and canola oils. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and salt.
Bake until golden brown, about 10 mins. Cool and reserve.
Dressing: Combine all ingredients except oils in the bowl of a food processor and blend well. Slowly add sesame and canola oils and blend until combined.
Salad: Toss cabbage, carrots, scallions, cilantro and mint together. Carefully mix in orange segments, chicken and dressing to taste.
Top with peanuts, sesame seeds and wonton crisps. Garnish with cilantro and mint.
*To poach chicken: place chicken in a large pot with aromatics (sliced onion, garlic cloves or herbs - use whatever is handy and in keeping with the flavor profile of the dish you're going to make), cover and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer 5 minutes and turn off the heat. Let stand about 15 minutes or until cooked through). Remove chicken and discard the rest. Allow chicken to cool slightly and shred. I store mine for a couple days in a large ziploc bag in the refrigerator.