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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Asian Chicken Salad

When I was little they called this Oriental Chicken Salad. Then they changed it to Chinese Chicken Salad, and these days I see it named Asian Chicken Salad as often as anything else. I am not sure if it was the salad or someone else who was offended by the names, but who am I to argue with political correctness?

At any rate, I got a big beautiful Napa cabbage in my box the other day. There isn't a cabbage that I dislike, and Napa happens to be high on the cabbage list. I rather enjoy it. It works very well in a stir-fry, but one thing I know from my past year of getting the box is that I am going to have plenty of chances to stir-fry many many dinners. Rather than burn myself out ahead of time, I decided to make a salad out of this cabbage. And I love love love that Oriental  Chinese  Asian salad.

This is one of those meals that I make so often, I don't always do such a great job of it. There are the usual ingredients (lettuce or cabbage of some sort, chicken, carrots, green onions, almonds), there are the bonus ingredients (mandarin oranges, chow mein noodles, sesame seeds), and there is dressing. Asian salad dressing can be found in a bottle in every price range, and there are definitely better ones and worse ones. It just depends on my mood as to which one I will buy. Since I do make this salad so often, I find myself not caring too much sometimes. If I'm out of a particular ingredient, I just omit it. I have gotten to the point where, if I have lettuce and chicken, that's enough. Anything else I can add is great, but I will go ahead without it.

Given all that, I decided that this time I would go ahead and look up a recipe, and make sure I had everything I needed before dinnertime. Novel idea, I know.

The recipe I used was this one, from Ellie Krieger on The Food Network. Of course, I made it my own with a little more of this and a little less of that. (I opted to use all Napa cabbage instead of part red cabbage, since... I am not about to go buy more cabbage, and I left out the water chestnuts, because, well, canned water chestnuts are nasty. They taste rather like, umm, cans.)

Anyway, I really like the way she brushes the chicken with a sort of marinade before cooking it (I have usually used... well, leftover chicken from something else), and I like her dressing. I beats the heck out of any bottle Asian dressing I have ever tried.

Also, I used chicken thighs instead of breasts. You may wonder why. The real truth of the matter is that  I was at the store, in the meat department, perusing all the chicken packages. I found the organic stuff, and I was reading the label. While noticing things like "Free-range" and "Organic" and "grain-fed" I sort of, umm, overlooked the fact that I was holding a package of thighs instead of breasts. I actually didn't even realize it until I was taking them out of their little styrofoam tray and laying them in my pan to bake. I would say that the juicier thighs work just fine in this salad. They may even be better.

Anyway, here is the version of the salad that I put together:


  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, divided
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs breasts thighs
  • 1 head napa cabbage, thinly shredded
  • 1 large carrot, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 3 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced, greens included
  • 1 (11-ounce) can Mandarin oranges in water, drained -- or -- 2 fresh mandarin oranges divided into segments
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce or chili sauce


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and brush onto chicken. Arrange in a baking dish and bake until juices run clear, about 13 to15 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely, and cut into 1/4-inch slices.
In a large bowl, combine Napa cabbage, carrot, green onions, oranges and sliced chicken.
For the dressing, put all the ingredients into a small jar and shake well to combine. Pour dressing over salad and toss. Sprinkle almonds over the top.