Chinese Chicken Salad. It’s pretty much a staple on just about every restaurant menu and has been since, what, like the mid-1980’s? And it’s still a favorite. Wolfgang Puck makes one that he calls Chinois Chicken Salad. Fancy. And it’s served at all of his restaurants, from the most high-end like Jai in La Jolla (in fact, I just had one there in December, when Tony and I went to the La Jolla Playhouse to see “Yoshini Battles the Pink Robots” for my birthday) to the Wolfgang Puck Expresses you find at airports.
A co-worker gave me a signed copy of Wolfgang’s Live, Love, Eat cookbook several years ago for a holiday gift exchange and I’ve made the Chinois salad (well, a somewhat revised version) many, many times. I hadn’t made it for quite a while and was craving one the other night. I pulled the cookbook off the shelf, turned to the page (which is just about falling out of the book, btw, and saw that I had printed out a Chinese Chicken Salad recipe from a 2006 Gourmet magazine and stuck it in there, with lots of notes, combining the best of both recipes.)
It was a delicious, light dinner and the leftovers made for the best yummy lunch at my desk the next day at work.
With all the revisions I’ve made, it’s not so much Wolfgang’s original recipe anymore. We’ll just call it Cheryl’s Chinois Salad and thank him for the inspiration!
Cheryl’s Chinois Salad
6 cups shredded Romaine lettuce (about one 1-lb head)
2 cups shredded Napa cabbage (one smallish head)
1/2 pound snow peas, cut into 1/4″ julienne strips
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1 cup won ton strips (You can buy won ton strips in most grocery store produce sections, like where the croutons are. I’ve also on occasion stopped in at our local Chinese restaurant and bought them. You can make your own, too, either deep frying or baking, though I never have. Shame on me. Wolfgang doesn’t even include them in his salad!)
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted (black or white, I like a combination of both. You can find already toasted sesame seeds in the Asian section of most supermarkets, and sometimes black sesame seeds too.)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon dry Chinese or English mustard
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil (also found in the Asian section of most supermarkets)
1/4 cup vegetable or peanut oil
salt & pepper, to taste
Salad: Gently toss lettuce, cabbage, snow peas, green onion, radish and cilantro in large bowl. Add chicken. Toss with vinaigrette. Just before serving, add won ton strips, almonds and sesame seeds and toss again.
Vinaigrette: Whisk together soy sauce, lemon juice, sugar, vinegar and mustard in small bowl, then add sesame oil and vegetable (or peanut) oil in a slow stream, whisking until sugar is dissolved and dressing is well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.