Cook the Book: Chinese Chicken Salad

Cook the Book: Chinese Chicken Salad

I don't think that there is anything remotely Chinese about the Chinese Chicken Salad. Originated sometime in the mid-1980s by Wolfgang Puck, it's California cuisine through and through. And although it's available in many airports throughout the nation and at just about every fast-casual eatery out there, there's something that remains quite appealing about this chicken salad.

This version, adapted from The Sunset Cookbook keeps all of the important ingredients from the original—chilled chicken, soy vinaigrette, sesame seeds, orange segments, and crisp fried wonton skins—and adds a handful of fresh vegetables to up the healthy factor. Creamy avocado and batons of asparagus are mixed in to make for a salad that is nothing if not satisfying (and really kind of timeless).

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Sunset Cookbook to give away this week.

Adapted from The Sunset Cookbook. Copyright © 2010. Published by Oxmoor House. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

  • Yield:6 to 8 as a main course
  • Total time:45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha chili sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup canola or grapeseed oil
  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, bottoms trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 navel oranges or 1 can (11 ounces) mandarin orange slices, drained
  • About 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil for frying
  • 4 fresh won ton wrappers (about 3 1/2 inches each), cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
  • 6 cups finely shredded cabbage
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 1 large firm-ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and cubed
  • 4 green onions, trimmed and sliced diagonally
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Directions

  1. 1.

    In a bowl, whisk together vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, chili sauce, and ginger. Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking constantly. Season with salt. Set dressing aside.

  2. 2.

    In a 2- to 3-quart pan over high heat, bring about 1 quart water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, then plunge asparagus into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

  3. 3.

    Cut off and discard ends from oranges. Following curve of fruit, cut off peel and outer membrane. Slice oranges crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, then cut rounds into quarters. Set aside.

  4. 4.

    Pour oil into a 3- to 4-quart pan (oil should be about 1/2 inch deep) and set over medium-high heat. When oil reaches 350°F, add won ton strips and fry, stirring, until golden brown on both sides, about 30 seconds total. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels.

  5. 5.

    In a large serving bowl, toss cabbage, chicken, and asparagus with dressing. Top with avocado, orange slices, and won ton strips, then garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.

    Notes:You can use store-bought crispy won tons or chow mein noodles instead of frying your own.

    Toast sesame seeds in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat, shaking often, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes.