Chinese Chicken Salad

chinese_chicken_salad

(click on photo for shot-by-shot food styling and photography analysis of some of the photos that led up to the “money shot”)

Chinese restaurants in China don’t really have Chinese Chicken Salad on their menus, it’s a creation of Chinese-American restaurants! According to Cecilia Chiang, author of The Seventh Daughter: My Culinary Journey from Beijing to San Francisco(one of my all time favorite Chinese American cookbooks), lettuce was rare and imported in China, and “salads” referred to pickled items. But, I still love a good Chinese Chicken Salad, especially if it’s got a tangy, sweet sauce and crunchy bits of fried wonton strips.

But please, Applebee’s restaurant, can we rename your “Oriental Chicken Salad” to something more hip? Asian Chicken Salad or Chinese Chicken Salad would be much better. Oriental is such a dated word…so..19th century!*

Recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad is below.

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Food Styling and Photography

Many of you requested that I continue posting my shot-by-shot analysis of all the failed photos that led up to this one that I like…my “money shot.” I also show you my photo setup – which really doesn’t change too much during the “NOT-winter” season. I use natural light as much as I can, and when dreary winter comes along, I switch to using my Lowel EGO lights.

Vegan Yum Yum just posted a fabulous write up on food photography – make sure you check it out.

For more food photography posts, I have a whole category called “Food Photography/Blog Tips.”

Updated Steamy Kitchen Web Design

Do you like the new look? Cleaner, brighter and much faster. I’m still working on it, but I think this is a lighter design that fits my personality more.

Guess what? Now I have a print functionality!!! If you want to print out a recipe without the sidebars and ads and stuff, there is a little print icon right next to each post’s header text. Click on that and you’ll get a nice, clean version that you can print out.

This Chinese Chicken Salad recipe makes a really quick light meal if you use store-bought roasted chicken and pre-fried crispy noodles (found in a bag or canister in the Asian section of supermarket.) I like to get a whole rotisserie chicken, use the breasts for the salad and the remaining meat for paninis the next day. The bones? I throw them in a pot, add water carrots, celery and make a very flavorful soup. Don’t waste the bones of a roasted chicken!

You can also throw in a handful of almonds too. The dressing for this Chinese Chicken Salad is one of my husband’s favorites – a copycat version of Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad dressing which is a tangy and sweet.

Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe

serves 4-6

15 wonton skins, cut into strips (or if you don’t want to fry: 1 cup fried crispy chow mein noodles)
oil for frying
1 head lettuce, leaves shredded or torn
2 cooked chicken breasts, meat shredded with your fingers
1 cucumber, sliced
handful snow peas, sliced on diagonal
11 ounce can mandarin oranges, drained

For the dressing
a la Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad Dressing

makes scant 1 cup (use half for the salad and store the rest in refrigerator)

6 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

To make the salad dressing, whisk together the honey, mayonnaise, mustard until very smooth. Then whisk in the oil and vinegar.

To fry the wonton skin strips, heat 1 inch of oil until 375F. If you don’t have a thermometer, just slide one wonton strip into the oil – it should sizzle immediately and turn light golden brown in about 30 seconds. Fry the wonton strips in several batches and drain on a rack or layers of paper towels. Each batch should take about 30 seconds to 1 minute to fry.

Assemble Chinese Chicken Salad with lettuce, chicken, cucumber, snow peas, mandarin oranges. Drizzle on salad dressing and sprinkle with wonton strips.

How to poach chicken breasts

If you have uncooked chicken breasts, you can poach the chicken breasts. In a medium pot, add the chicken breasts and fill with water or broth 1 inch above the chicken. Add 1 teaspoon of kosher or sea salt to the water. Bring the pot to a boil and immediately turn the heat to low, simmering for 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and cover. Let sit for 20 minutes. Save the poaching liquid for cooking or for soup. There you go…perfectly poached chicken breasts!

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Classy Is My Middle Name

The winner of the cookbook, Dave’s Dinners signed by Dave Lieberman is Lynn, the Half Asian. Part of the fun was to have each of you guess what my pickup line to Dave Lieberman was, when I first met him. Though your answers had nothing to do with winning – it was just for shits and giggles.

Here’s what Lynn thought I said:

“I don’t have to show my husband the film…”

Funny! Even though that’s not what I said, Lynn is the random winner that  was chosen by the Psychic Science random number generator. Congrats! Email me at jaden@steamykitchen.com with your address.

So, what was my pickup line to Dave Lieberman?

Dave Lieberman

“Ohmygod. I have lens envy!”

Clearly, his was big.

imabigdork. Yes, that’s exactly what I said to him the moment I saw Dave Lieberman. And he was sooo sweet, offering me use of his big lens. But after further inspection of his big lens, we discovered his big lens didn’t fit into my camera.** Just wasn’t a good fit, which was just too bad. We tried, but it didn’t work out.***

Sigh.

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*The word “Oriental” is not offensive at all to me (very few things actually offend annoying people like me) It’s like the word “Chinaman” – not offensive, it’s just a dated word that people don’t use anymore. Funky seeing the word “Oriental” on a big chain’s menu!

**My camera is very capable of handling big lenses, just not Dave’s big lens. Seems like wrong type. (ahem)

***But if you must know, his big lens fits his Canon Rebel XT but isn’t compatible with my Canon 40D.