Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad

Whew! Summer is just flying by this year. I have so much to share! Our trip to Colorado for two weddings and an update on this year’s garden will be coming soon. We also just returned from a 10-day trip back East, full of family time and many “firsts” for Oden, but I haven’t begun to sort through the photos. And this Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad recipe has been waiting to be shared for weeks! A full life is a happy life, right?

Back in June, Grandma and Grandpa came to visit Oden and help me while John was off on a business trip. I made this salad for us one evening, and it was so refreshing and summer-y and light that I jotted down the details to make it again for John. It’s full of texture, thanks to lots of raw veggies (it’s a salad, after all) and Chow Mein noodles, but what makes this salad special is the dressing.

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Years ago, I used to make a Chinese chicken salad using a dressing that came from a dry mix packet I found in the Asian food aisle at the market. It was so scrumptious and probably full of preservatives and MSG. I haven’t seen it on the shelves in ages and I thought I’d never be able to replicate the flavors, but this combination comes close! I have these ingredients on hand in my pantry all the time, too. Into a little jam jar, I combined some rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil. I added minced ginger and garlic. Last, I added some sugar. A pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, and a good shake with the lid on the jar. Done!

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The ingredients of the salad can vary based what you have in the fridge. I started with a base of chopped romaine and Napa cabbage. I added some bell pepper, carrot, cucumber, and sugar snap peas. The crunch factor is increasing!

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One of my favorite things about a Chinese chicken salad is the mandarin oranges. I don’t eat them with anything else, really, but their tender sweetness is a must for the savory-sweet combo this salad does so well! I also chopped up some chicken breast from a rotisserie chicken and added it over everything.

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The finishing touches to this glorious main plate salad are chopped green onions and plenty of crunchy Chow Mein noodles. We always have those on hand for salads (and John puts them in his midnight peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!). How beautiful is this plate?

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Somehow, dinner was ready in the magical window after the hot summer sun had tucked behind the hill to the west and Oden’s bedtime, so we plopped him into a bouncy seat at the table and dined in our bare feet outside. Bliss!

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What a tasty summer meal! It’s hearty enough for dinner but light enough for the season. Each bite has a different kind of crunch. There’s a slightly bitter bite from the cabbage, a savory layer of flavor from the chicken, and more than one kind of sweetness from the fruit and the veggies. Like I said, while the salad is full of tasty ingredients, the dressing takes it over the top. It’s an interesting combo of salty, sweet, and tangy and it really brings the Asian flavors together. Next time, I’ll double the amount and keep some in the fridge for the week!

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Cheers to a bustling summer, being home for a few weeks, and enjoying the season with tasty meals outdoors!

Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad

For the dressing, you’ll need:

  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch each of salt and pepper

For the salad, you’ll need your preferred amounts of:

  • Chopped romaine lettuce
  • Shredded Napa cabbage
  • Sliced bell pepper
  • Thin carrot rounds
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Sugar snap peas, cut in half
  • Canned and drained mandarin oranges
  • Chopped rotisserie chicken breast
  • Chow Mein noodles and chopped green onion for garnish

Make the dressing by combining all ingredients in a jam jar with a lid and shaking well to combine.

To assemble the salad, arrange the romaine and Napa cabbage in large bowls. Layer the veggies over the lettuce, then add the oranges and chicken. Top with the Chow Mein noodles and green onion. Serve with the dressing on the side and don’t be shy with the dressing! Yum!

Hungry for more? Check out the collection of recipes on the FOOD BLISS page.

One year ago: Summer Panzanella Salad

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