Best-ever Chinese chicken salad
Simple to prepare and beautiful to behold, Chinese chicken salad has been a favorite light supper since the 1980s, when Wolfgang Puck became the first American chef to put it on a restaurant menu. In this recipe, I used a mix of thinly sliced “regular” green cabbage and celery cabbage, which is a bit sweeter. Not wanting to be stuck inside in front of an oven on a beautiful spring day, I cheated by using meat from a rotisserie chicken. Grilled chicken also would be delicious.
Be sure to toss the vegetables and chicken well with the dressing before adding the crunchy garnishes — you’ll want the Asian flavors to permeate every single bite.
1⁄2 pound trimmed asparagus, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
2 naval oranges
Vegetable oil for frying
8 fresh wonton wrappers, cut into ¼-inch strips
6 cups finely shredded cabbage
2 cups shredded or cubed cooked chicken
Spicy Soy-Ginger Dressing (recipe follows)
1 large avocado, diced
4 green onions, sliced diagonally
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1⁄3 cup toasted sliced almonds
Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a 2-quart pan over high heat. Add asparagus and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Cut off and discard the ends of the oranges, then slice them into 1⁄4-inch thick rounds. Cut the rounds into quarters. Set aside.
Pour oil in a frying pan and set over medium heat. When it’s hot, add won ton strips and fry, stirring, until golden brown on both sides, about 30 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Toss cabbage, chicken and asparagus with dressing in a large bowl. Top with avocado, orange slices and wonton strips. Garnish with green onions, sesame seeds and almonds.
Serves 4 to 6.
— Adapted from “The Sunset Essential Western Cookbook” (Oxmoor House, $24.95)
Spicy Soy-Ginger Dressing
Whisk together 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon chili sauce (such as Sriracha) and 11⁄2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger.
Slowly whisk in 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil. Season to taste with salt. Makes about 1⁄3 cup dressing.