With spring officially here and warmer weather upon us, I’ve found myself eating more salads lately to help keep cool. Try out this modified version of a Chinese chicken salad recipe that my mom pulled out from the L.A. Times way back before the Internet was even around! The original recipe has a more traditional Chinese flavor to it, thanks to the deep fried rice sticks and water chestnuts, but I prefer an American twist with wonton strips and mandarin oranges. For extra crunch, you can add sliced almonds, celery, and radishes (also in the original recipe), but I’ll usually mix in cashews and carrots based on whether or not I have them on hand at the time. However, the one thing I never mess with is the dressing. This sauce is a bit oilier than other ones, but I love how the five-spice powder puts a unique, more complex spin on the salad compared to the sweeter ones that are usually served at restaurants.
Here’s what you’ll need:
2-4 chicken breasts
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
4 teaspoons sugar
1 head of lettuce
1 carrot, julienned
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely minced
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Start off by boiling the pieces of chicken in a mix of soy sauce, sugar, and water, which will add some flavor to your chicken. Go for an equal part ratio of water and soy sauce, adding in 4 teaspoons of sugar for each cup of soy sauce, and make sure your chicken pieces are covered with liquid. Then, while that gets a-cooking, go ahead and chop up the rest of your salad ingredients.
Since I end up shredding the chicken in this salad, I also slice up the lettuce pretty thinly. For ease, just throw each ingredient into a large bowl on top of the lettuce as you finish cutting it up.
You’ll want to wait on mixing in the dressing until right before you eat, or else it’ll break down the liquid from the lettuce and mandarin oranges, making everything soggy while it sits. Plus, this allows people to choose how much dressing they want on their salad, which is always a good thing!
Next, move onto compiling the dressing. The picture on the right shows a side’s eye view of the dressing, where you can see how the thin layer of oil has already separated itself from the rest of the ingredients. Just be sure to give the dressing a good stir before drizzling it on top of the salad. Finish off with a nice topping of wonton strips (and extra sesame seeds if desired), and eat on up!
*Note: For my GF friends, just omit the wonton strips, and you’re good to go as well!
What are your favorite go-to salad concoctions? Let me know by leaving a comment, sending a message, or tagging me @thehippowithin #thehippowithin.
Until next time, enjoy!