Monday, September 28, 2009

Chinese Chicken Salad

When temperatures soared into the 90’s for one last summer fling this past weekend, I had no desire to cook anything warm so I turned to an old staple—Chinese chicken salad. I like to joke that this crunchy, refreshing salad is my kitchen-sink salad because I’m apt to throw in whatever is in my hydrator that I don’t want to waste.

This recipe is my standard one, but I’ve been known to add cucumbers, basil, mint, spinach, leftover green beans…you get the idea. It’s the chicken and peanut dressing that hold the concept together, and the easy preparation that keep me coming back to this recipe time and again.
Chinese Chicken Salad

Serves 2
Rotisserie chicken from store
1 small head Napa cabbage, julienned
1 small heart of romaine lettuce, julienned
1 cup snow peas, cut on the bias
¼ cup red bell pepper, julienned
3 scallions, cut on the bias
½ cup cilantro, lightly chopped
¼ peanuts

Peanut Dressing
¼ cup canola oil
2 tbls. sesame oil
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
¼  cup chicken stock
3 tbls. creamy or chunky peanut butter
1 tbls. soy sauce
1 tbls. honey
½ tsp. dried ginger
1 pinch red pepper flakes or cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

Remove skin from chicken and slice the breast meat on the bias, enough for 2 servings and set aside.

To make the peanut dressing, put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. (If you prefer a more traditional oil-based dressing, omit the stock and double the canola oil.) Adjust seasoning to taste.

Clean and cut the salad ingredients and put in a medium bowl. (I like snow peas raw but if you prefer them cooked, blanch the peas for 1 minute and then immerse them in ice water, then drain and dry before you slice them.) Toss the salad mixture with 2 tbls. peanut dressing.

Divide the salad mixture between two plates and arrange chicken on top. Drizzle each salad with 1-2 tbls. peanut dressing. Garnish with peanuts. 
 Xiang shou!

Tips and Tidbits
If you don’t feel like making home-made salad dressing, whisk together ¼ cup Newman’s Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing with  2 tbls. peanut butter.  The dressing is more vinegary, but quite tasty.

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