Last night’s dinner was defined by leftovers tucked away in the recesses of the fridge. A recent meal of Rotisserie Lemon-Garlic Chicken was the inspiration for a quick and easy Chinese chicken salad. A quick perusal of the pantry confirmed that most of the necessary ingredients were at hand… a jar of Lee Kum Kee hoisin sauce, a package of rice sticks, bottles of sesame oil and tangy Marukan rice vinegar, a tin of sesame seeds and a can of roasted and salted peanuts. The fridge provided leftover chicken from two previous meals as well as green onions, a bunch of cilantro, a head of iceberg lettuce and a container of pickled ginger. Dinner was under way! In your preparations should you not have leftover pieces of chicken in your fridge simply stop by your local market and purchase a bird already roasted and ready to go.
Chinese chicken salad, as suggested by the name, is a chicken salad utilizing common Chinese-themed ingredients. Interestingly enough, raw salads are not traditional fare in Asia and had little appeal to most Chinese whose preference was to par-boil or stir fry their vegetables. The Chinese salad dressing originated in the 1930’s and the Chinese chicken salad as we know it may have originated in recent years from Pan-Asian cuisine pioneers such as Wolfgang Puck rather than having actual roots in Chinese cuisine. It appears, therefore, that Chinese chicken salad is a dish of Western origins. It can, however, be said with certainty that its combination of flavorful ingredients has been the cause of its widespread popularity!
Chinese Chicken Salad
With your hands, remove the skin from the meat of:
1 4 – 4 1/2 lb roasted chicken
Remove the meat from the bones and carcass and shred or cut into bite-sized pieces. In a large mixing bowl toss the chicken with:
3 T hoisin sauce (we recommend the Lee Kum Kee brand)
Place in a small skillet over moderately high heat:
1 1/2 T sesame seeds
Toast, swirling the pan constantly, until the seeds are browned. This happens quickly so watch closely to prevent burning:
Immediately transfer them to a small bowl on the side to stop further cooking!
Cut into matchstick-sized pieces:
- 6 green onions, both white and green portions
Set the matchsticks to the side. Coarsely chop and set aside:
- 1 bunch cilantro, reserving several springs for garnish
Coarsely chop and set aside:
- 1 C peanuts
- 3 – 4 T pickled ginger, as used for sushi
Set the ginger to the side. Using a scissors cut and set aside:
- 1/4 of an 8-oz package (2-oz) of rice sticks
To fry the rice sticks pour into a deep cast iron skillet over moderately high heat:
- 2 – 3 inches peanut oil
Chef’s Note: The peanut oil can be strained through a fine sieve after it has been used and reserved for future use.
When the oil begins to shimmer test the temperature by holding a single rice stick in the oil. If the rice stick puffs immediately , the temperature of the oil is perfect:
Drop the rice stick bundle into the hot oil. Be aware that the rice sticks immediately billow and expand into a large cloud of crisp white noodles!
Transfer the noodle “cloud” with a pair of tongs to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and cool.
To the mixing bowl containing the slivered chicken and hoisin sauce add:
- the chopped peanuts
- the toasted sesame seeds
- the pickled ginger
- 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 T rice vinegar
- 4 T sesame oil
Mix well, then add:
- 1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
Quickly toss and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Transfer to a plate for service:
Garnish with the noodles and reserved cilantro and green onion matchsticks:
Serve immediately and savor this delicious salad where East meets West so very well… Bon Appetit!
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