Hot and Numbing Sichuan-Style Turkey Salad Recipe

Toss leftover Thanksgiving turkey with a Sichuan-inspired "strange flavor" dressing for a salad that will jolt you out of any lingering food coma.

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Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • The hot and numbing Sichuan-style dressing comes together in a minute with the help of a mortar and pestle.
  • Adding stock (turkey or chicken) to the dressing helps combat the problem of dried-out leftover turkey meat.

In the days after Thanksgiving, there comes a point when you can't eat any more turkey sandwiches. Holiday-meal-palate fatigue has set in, but you still have leftovers that you don't want to go to waste. This Sichuan-style turkey salad, inspired by Bang Bang Chicken, will snap you right out of the Tupperware tedium, thanks to a dressing buzzing with Sichuan peppercorns, spicy chili oil, and toasty, creamy sesame paste.

The dressing's combination of salty, sweet, sour, nutty, hot, and numbing flavors is known as guaiwei in Sichuan cuisine, translating roughly to "strange flavor," and it's a welcome pairing for turkey, which is on the blander end of the flavor spectrum, even on its best day. The addition of a little stock to the vinaigrette helps alleviate the problem of dried-out leftover turkey.

Recipe Facts

Active: 10 mins
Total: 10 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons (2g) whole Sichuan peppercorns, toasted
  • 3 medium garlic cloves (15g)
  • 1 (1/2-inch) knob peeled fresh ginger (5g)
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (4g) black or white sesame seeds, plus more for garnish, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) Chinkiang or black vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) homemade turkey or chicken stock, or store-bought, low-sodium chicken stock, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) white sesame paste, preferably Chinese, but tahini will do in a pinch
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) chili oil with sediment (see note)
  • 1 pound (450g) leftover roast turkey breast, pulled
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 scallions (60g), thinly sliced on a sharp bias, divided

Directions

  1. Using a mortar and pestle, grind Sichuan peppercorns into a coarse powder, about 30 seconds. Add garlic, ginger, sugar, and sesame seeds, and pound to a rough paste, about 1 minute. Add vinegar, stock, sesame paste, and soy sauce, and pound to a smooth paste, 15 to 30 seconds. Stir in chili oil and sediment.

  2. In a medium bowl, toss turkey with dressing and 3/4 of scallions until turkey is well-coated, adding extra stock as needed if turkey is too dry. Season to taste with salt. Transfer turkey a serving bowl or individual serving plates, sprinkle with remaining scallions, more toasted sesame seeds, and additional chili oil if desired. Serve immediately.

Special equipment

Mortar and pestle

Notes

Chili oil with sediment can be found in most Chinese supermarkets. Alternatively, make your own by toasting 1/4 cup (15g) of dried ground Sichuan or Thai chilies in a dry wok or saucepan until fragrant. Add 1/2 cup (120ml) of neutral oil like canola and heat until lightly bubbling. Immediately transfer to a cool heatproof container and let rest until cool. Chili oil can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator indefinitely.

Make-Ahead and Storage

The dressing can be made in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The salad is best enjoyed immediately, but it can be stored overnight in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

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