Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pantry Alchemy: Chinese Chicken Salad

I love my Asian pantry/fridge ingredients. Soy sauce, of course. (Two kinds.) Sesame oil. As well as chile oil and peppercorn oil. Rice wine vinegar. Sambal oelek. (AKA chili-garlic sauce.) My new secret ingredient, mirin. And a variety of prepared jarred sauces like black bean sauce, hoisin sauce, and oyster sauce.

Lucky for me, there's an Asian grocery just around the corner where I can buy authentic versions of these things at quite the bargain. Along with all the other ingredients I need like bok choy, mushrooms, noodles, and tofu. I skip the chicken feet though.

So, since I'm well-stocked in this department, it's easy to come up with a flavorful dinner of Chinese chicken salad.

I baked a chicken breast at 400° for 35 minutes after basting it with soy sauce and mirin and hitting it with a little garlic pepper and freshly grated ginger. then, let it cool, chop it up and toss in the pan juices.

Meanwhile, chopped up some Napa cabbage, scallions, celery and water chestnuts. You could throw in whatever else floats your boat. Baby corn. Mandarin oranges. Red bell pepper. Cilantro. A bit of jalapeƱo. Go for it.

(And make sure you have some crunchy bits ready also. Crispy wonton strips. Or chow mein noodles. Or chopped peanuts.)

Make this dressing. Toss to your heart's content. Enjoy. (Translate that into your favorite Asian language.)

Asian-Style Dressing
Makes about one cup.

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon chili-ginger sauce
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
Pinch of salt
Pinch of garlic pepper

Whir all ingredients together in a mini food processor to emulsify.

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