Quick and Easy Chinese Chicken Salad

Chinese Chicken Salad | Pinky's Pantry
Oh my gosh, is it HOT outside! We hit 104º today! Whew! It’s even too hot to expend the energy fanning yourself! I needed to prepare something cool and refreshing for dinner but I didn’t want to work hard making it. Something quick and easy was in order. Enter my “Quick and Easy Chinese Chicken Salad.” What I love best about this salad is there’s very little prep needed if you buy pre-shredded rotisserie chicken, pre-cut lettuce, shredded carrots, and bottled dressing like I did! Then you literally just need to stack the water chestnut slices to cut them in half, and chop up the cilantro. Easy, peasy!
Chinese Chicken Salad | Pinky's Pantry
The dressing recipe I have here is a pretty simple one to make but if you really want to save time and effort, there are a lot of excellent bottled Chinese Chicken Salad Dressings out on the market. Just buy yourself a bottle and skip making it from scratch. Trust me, it’ll turn out just fine.

QUICK AND EASY CHINESE CHICKEN SALAD

For the Salad:

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, or 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce, cut into bite sized pieces
  • ¾ cup shredded carrots
  • 1 small can (8 oz.) sliced water chestnuts, drained and cut in half
  • 1 small can (11 oz.) mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup canned crunchy chow mein noodles (can substitute ⅔ cup slivered almonds)
  • 2-3 tbsps. toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

For the Dressing:

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar (plain or seasoned)
  • 3 tbsps. soy sauce
  • 1½ tbsps. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. peeled, grated fresh ginger
  • ½ tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  1. If using rotisserie chicken:  Remove chicken meat from the bones and shred into bite-sized pieces. (I buy it already pre-shredded at Costco.)
    If using boneless, skinless chicken breasts:  Drizzle chicken with olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and bake at 350ºF until chicken is just cooked through, about 30-40 minutes. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Make dressing by whisking together all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Place chicken, lettuce, carrots, water chestnuts, mandarin oranges, cilantro and chow mein noodles in a large salad bowl.
  4. Pour dressing over everything and toss together gently.
  5. Serve in individual salad bowls and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.
  6. Salad can be served cold or at room temperature.

Note:  For those of you who’ve asked me, one of my favorite bottled chinese chicken salad dressings is “Joey D’s Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing & Marinade.” It’s really good, but I’m sure there are others just as good out there. Use your favorite one.

Vietnamese Shredded Chicken Salad

Vietnamese Chicken Salad | Pinky's Pantry
My sister, Helen, got the brilliant idea that we should all do this toxin-eliminating, inflammation-reducing, cleansing diet called the Whole 30 program. The program actually sounds really good. It’s supposed to restore a healthy digestive tract, balance your immune system, and raise your metabolism.

Old Goat Honey and I decided that we would do it! It could only help us, not hurt us, and Lord knows we could both stand to lose more than a few pounds. Plus the dramatic benefits of the program sound great! Our resolve firmed up as we read accounts of “consistently high energy levels, improved athletic performance, better sleep, improved focus and mental clarity, and a sunnier disposition.” But that’s about as far as we got on the program. Somehow, we just can’t seem to get started!

ME:  Let’s start the program on Monday.

OLD GOAT:  We’re supposed to take Bashful and her friend out to dinner on Tuesday. Maybe we should start it on Friday.

ME:  We can’t! I have a Mexican potluck at work on Friday!

OLD GOAT:  Well, we’re going out to lunch with your Aunt and her boyfriend on Saturday. Maybe we should start it next Monday instead.

And that’s pretty much how it’s been going. Helen has been successfully doing the program and bugging me everyday to get started on it, while we keep guiltily putting it off for one reason or another. Sigh…….. We’ll get started on it eventually. I know we will……..eventually……

In the meantime, in an effort to at least try to have something healthy on the dinner table tonight, I made this Vietnamese Shredded Chicken Salad. The only “questionable” ingredient in it is the white sugar, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use agave syrup or some other healthy sugar substitute in its place (though I haven’t tried it myself). Also, I used shredded rotisserie chicken which made it really easy.

VIETNAMESE SHREDDED CHICKEN SALAD
(Recipe from the November 2000 issue of Saveur magazine)

  • 2 fresh Thai red chiles (can substitute serrano chiles)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 3 tbsp. Vietnamese fish sauce (nuó’c mam)
  • 3 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 4 cups shredded napa cabbage
  • 2 medium carrots, julienned
  • ½ cup roughly chopped fresh mint
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cilantro leaves, for garnish
  1. Cut chiles in half, remove seeds, then mince.
  2. Place chiles in a large bowl.
  3. Add garlic, sugar, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, oil, and onion.
  4. Mix until sugar dissolves.
  5. Add chicken, napa cabbage, carrots, and mint.
  6. Season with freshly ground black pepper and toss well.
  7. Garnish with cilantro leaves, if desired.

NOTE:  No. 1 got the idea to sprinkle chopped peanuts on top of the salad and loved it! He and Old Goat think the peanuts make the salad even better!