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Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad

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Serves four as a main course.

  • by Barbara Lauterbach from Fine Cooking
    Issue 86

Most supermarkets carry sweet and hot chile sauces, but if you have trouble finding them, try an Asian market.

For the salad:
  • 2 bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts (about 2-1/4 lb.)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 square wonton wrappers
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 2/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 oz. snow peas, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into thirds (1/2 cup)
  • 1 Tbs. white sesame seeds
  • 1/2 small head napa cabbage, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips (3 to 3-1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 romaine heart, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips (1-1/2 to 2 cups)
  • 3 large scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced on the diagonal (1/2 cup)
For the dressing:
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. sweet Asian chile sauce
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped (2 tsp.)
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. hot Asian chile sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
Prepare the salad ingredients:

Heat the oven to 425°F. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Roast on a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a breast registers 165°F, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool. Remove and discard the skin and then shred the meat. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.

Stack the wonton wrappers on a cutting board and cut them into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Separate the strips, lay them on the baking sheet, and mist them lightly with the cooking spray. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Scrunch each strip to give it a wavy shape, if you like. Bake at 375°F until golden, 7 to 9 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350°F.

Spread the sliced almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden, 6 to 8 minutes.

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Have a bowl of ice water ready. Boil the snow peas just until bright green but still crisp, about 20 seconds. Drain and transfer to the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain.

Put the sesame seeds in a dry skillet and shake or stir over medium heat until light golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove them from the hot pan to prevent overcooking.

Make the dressing and assemble the salad:

In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, tamari, sweet chile sauce, garlic, ginger, salt, hot chile sauce, and pepper. Gradually whisk in the peanut and sesame oils.

In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, romaine, and snow peas. In another bowl, toss the chicken and scallions with 1/4 cup of the dressing. Add the chicken to the greens, and then add the sesame seeds and almonds. Toss with enough of the remaining dressing to coat well. Garnish each serving with the baked wonton strips.

Photo: Scott Phillips

Love this recipe and make it regularly. Good enough for company, but also makes a fairly simple one dish weeknight meal, especially if you use a rotisserie chicken from the store. I sometimes add napa cabbage or red cabbage, grilled or blanched asparagus, orange or tangerine segments, cilantro, avocado, red bell pepper...whatever's on hand and seems compatible. And orange-infused olive oil is also good in the dressing.

Excellent. Watch the wontons in the oven, mine cooked up very quickly. I used snap peas, raw, cut in 1/2 instead of the snow peas and they were excellent. Everyone loved the salad.

Fabulous!!! This salad is absolutely splendid. The flavors from the dressing blend so well. My family enjoyed it very much. I followed it to the "T" and had no problems.

I have been serving this salad for years now. There is absolutely no better recipe. Sometimes I make it as a side salad without the chicken & sometimes I will just use a fabulous Costco rotisserie chicken. The one thing I refuse to do is substitute anything else...this salad is perfect and I get raves every time. I tripled this for a potluck just this last sunday and the bowl was empty in no time. Take the little extra time to follow all the steps and you will be thrilled!

One of our very favorite dinner salads. I make extra crispy noodles - they seem to disappear before the salad is served.

Delicious! Have made this twice to great reviews. I didn't bother with the wonton wrappers (too much work), but instead used store-bought 'chow mein' noodles. Even without a crunchy topping this recipe would be outstanding.

I made this for a lunch with some girlfriends and it was delicious!!! The dressing really makes it fabulous. The salad is flavorful, filling, and easy to make. The only thing I changed was using peanuts instead of almonds. I just like the taste of peanuts when mixed with Asian ingredients.

THis is a fantastic salad. I have made this several times. Most recently I made it with quickly blanched broccoli and I used boneless breast of chicken sliced thinly and sauteed. Also to make the wonton wrappers I just oiled the whole wrappers and baked them and then crushed them up. All of these steps cut down on the time it took to put this salad together. I also added a little more ginger than called for. Yummy Yummy!!

Yummy! And oh so simple to make. I did however make a few adjustments. I added double the amount of both sweet and hot chili sauces and a bit more ginger. For the salad part I added red and yellow pepper strips, seeded English cucumber 1/4's(with skin), thin sliced carrot rounds and chopped cilantro along with all the listed ingredients. We will be serving this again for a dinner party this weekend!

Fantastic! This is not necessarily a quick salad, but it's definitely worth the time it takes to make. The easy way to make wavy wonton noodles is to take some foil and roll into long, narrow, rounded strips (make several of them and put the wonton noodles on top they will "wave" around the strips and you don't have to do it yourself!

I tripled this and made it for a 30 person wedding shower. It was delicious and several people asked for the recipe. I used packaged cole slaw mix instead of napa cabbage and added some honey to the dressing. I also added blanched asparagus. Next time I won't use lettuce because it meant that I couldn't dress the salad ahead of time, and it made the leftovers unappetizing because the lettuce was so wilted the following day.

This is a wonderful salad-its the dressing that really makes it great. Its almost creamy and has the best flavor. I made the recipe for my boyfriend and he said he's never had such a great Chinese salad. I take boneless chicken breasts, marinate them in soy sauce and grill instead of baking. I've also used rotisserie chicken when I need to make the salad more quickly. I change the salad ingrediants, depending on whats on hand. Sometimes I'll add or substitute carrots, bell peppers or cucumbers . Keep an eye on the wonton strips, they'll burn easily and bunching them up isn't really necessary. They usually collapse when I do that, so I just lay them flat and bake them, they're just as crunchy and nice looking.

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