One of my coworkers and I have this running joke where we pick apart recipes that have the word Asian or Chinese and so forth in the title. But What Makes It Asian? has been going down in our cubicle for a while now, and at times we have a hard time figuring out why a recipe or dish is categorized as such. I think we all know they’re not really Asian, but Asian inspired, as is this dish that mine and sis food blogging partner’s mom has made ever since we can remember.
In our cubicle game, this ingredient would be what makes our salad Asian inspired. They’re those little crunchy white threads you find in some Chinese cuisine, such as Mongolian Beef. They’re super fun to cook, so long as you remember that it’s very hot oil you use to cook them in.
When cooked, they look like this! OK, yes, it’s not the best photo in the world, but hopefully you get the idea. Tear apart or cut a small bunch of the dried bean threads and carefully drop it in the oil. In literally two seconds they puff up into these crunchy threads. Flip them over with tongs to ensure all the threads get cooked and remove immediately from the oil to a paper towel-lined platter.
Also part of the….fun of the these things is actually getting a small clump off the main bundle of threads. Prepare yourself for a bit of a mess, as bits and pieces will will want to ricochet everywhere. A pair of kitchen scissors works best, but there will still be a bit of a mess to clean up. But is it worth it to make this salad Asian? The answer is a resounding yes!
Toast some slivered almonds and sesame seeds – both hallmarks of an Asian-inspired dish – to add to the whole shebang later.
If you stop by your grocery store’s deli and snatch up a rotisserie chicken (we highly recommend this), you’ve saved yourself a lot of time and made this an exceptionally easy salad to have during the work week. If not, no worries, there’s an alternative method for preparing a few chicken breasts if you prefer. Seeing as how we’re all about ease with this one, we used the meat from our earlier post this week. The Garlic-Butter Rubbed Chicken with Oranges & Red Onions couldn’t have been more perfect.
Paired with a tangy, deceptively light-tasting dressing, this has always been one of our mom’s most popular recipes in our house growing up. It’s satisfying without leaving you feeling too full and its flavors are subtle yet good. It’s a happy-making salad. Thanks, mom!
Roasted Chinese Chicken Salad
From Full Fork Ahead
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: about 20 minutes Level: easy Serves: 6 to 8
For the dressing:
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 4 tablespoons vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the salad:
- 2 to 3 cups roasted chicken meat from a rotisserie chicken
- 1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
- 1/4 package bean thread noodles, or about 2 – 3 cups cooked
- vegetable oil
- 5-6 green onions, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup toasted, slivered almonds
- 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
To make the dressing:
Combine the sugar, salt, pepper and vinegar in a small saucepan and dissolve over low heat, about 5 minutes. Cool. Either whisk in the oil or combine the cooled mixture and oil in a tightly closed jar and shake to combine. Set aside.
To make the salad:
In a saute pan at least two inches deep, heat enough vegetable oil over high heat to fill the pan about one inch up the side. Break up the bean thread noodles into small clumps (your kitchen scissors might be useful here; also see post above for description of the noodles cooking). Test the oil by dropping a very small amount of the threads in. If they immediately cook and puff up, the oil is hot enough. Cook the small clumps of threads one at a time, cooking for only a few seconds before using tongs to flip them over to cook the other side thoroughly. Immediately remove to a paper towel lined plate and repeat with rest of the ban thread clumps. Set aside.
In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds and almonds, about five to eight minutes or until golden, stirring often to prevent burning.
Shred the lettuce and dice the chicken meat and place in a large serving bowl. Add in the toasted almonds and sesame seeds. Break up the cooked bean threads into small pieces and add to the salad. At the last minute, add the (again shaken or whisked, it will have separated a little) salad dressing to taste and combine it all. Serve and enjoy.
I wished that, after finishing this one, that we’d added some yummy Mandarin oranges to the salad. And I definitely will next time.
Our mother’s original recipe calls for all-white chicken breast meat, cooked in water with sliced ginger, then cooled and chopped. It’s wonderful this way, but our intention was to add another level of ease by suggesting a store-bought rotisserie chicken, or you could do what we did and roast an extra chicken to use in this salad later in the week. See the post above for a link to the recipe we used.
We normally had this as a side salad at dinner time, but it can easily make a wonderful main dinner salad as well.