Shoko’s Sesame Chicken Salad

A wonderful friend has just come out with her second book and I’m thrilled to be able to share one of the recipes with you. I first met Deb Samuels via email as we shared the same publisher, Tuttle Publishing. We finally got a chance to meet in person and shared a lobster dinner in Boston, which quite frankly, has to be the *best* way to meet new friends. Deb spent more than a decade in Japan, studying, eating, cooking Japanese cuisine. Now, she teaches Japanese cooking classes, writes for the Boston Globe and is the proud author of My Japanese Table book. 

I’ve asked Deb to introduce the recipe, Shoko’s Sesame Chicken Salad, I thought you’d enjoy this recipe, as it’s quite different than any other chicken salad that you’ve experienced, especially with the drizzle of sizzling hot oil on cold chicken. ~Jaden


One summer day in Tokyo, deep in August, we were invited to the home of our Japanese “brother,” Shingo Oishi, his wife, Shoko, and their sons, Banri and Moro. It was only a ten-minute walk from the train station, but by the time we had arrived we had wilted from the heat. We greedily drank down ice-cold glasses of roasted barley tea, and Shoko had almost completed making a gorgeous cold chicken dish. The sliced, ginger-scented chicken lay on 
a bed of lightly crushed chunks of cucumbers, surrounded by skinned tomato wedges and topped with a heaping mound of chopped green onions (scallions). Shoko had saved the drama of dressing preparation for last. She filled a soup ladle with dark sesame oil and held it just above a low flame. When the oil began to bubble, she withdrew the ladle and poured it directly over the chicken. The crags in the smashed cukes held the dressing. Sizzling hot oil met cold chicken and green onions. Wow! What an appetite trigger! I like to shred the poached chicken breasts and serve the whole dish on top of a bed of shredded lettuce along with the tomatoes and cucumbers.

You can purchase Debra Samuel’s book, My Japanese Table on amazon.

You can also keep up to date with her on Twitter and Facebook!


Sesame Chicken Salad

Servings: Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes
Summer Sesame Chicken Salad


4 cups (1 liter) water

4 slices of ginger, 1⁄4 in (6mm) thick

1 medium onion, sliced

3 boneless chicken breasts(1 lb/500g)

4-5 mini cucumbers or 1 English cucumber, unpeeled (or 1 Kirby cucumber, peeled and deseeded)
2 large tomatoes, cut into eighths
6 green onions (scallions), finely chopped
1⁄4 cup (65 ml) sesame oil

Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1⁄4 cup (65 ml) light soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon whole pepper- corns, lightly crushed


1) To make the Vinaigrette, mix the soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, and peppercorns in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for one minute and set aside.

2) Bring the water, ginger, and onion to a boil in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the chicken breasts. Cook for 15 minutes.
3) Turn off the heat and let chicken sit in the hot liquid 
for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the stock, and when it is cool enough to handle, shred the chicken with your hands. Place the chicken back into the stock in a bowl and refrigerate until you are ready to use.

4) Lightly scrape the skin of the mini or English cucumbers with a paring knife.
5 If using mini cucumbers cut them into 11⁄2 inch (3.75 cm) chunks. If you are using an English or Kirby cucum- ber cut them in half lengthwise, and then into 11⁄2 inch (3.75 cm) chunks.

5) Place a chunk of cucumber under the broad part of
a kitchen knife. With your fist, hit the top of the blade once, and lightly crush the cucumber. Repeat with the remaining pieces.

6) Arrange a layer of the crushed cucumbers around a large serving platter. Remove the cold chicken from the stock and place it down the center of the platter. Surround the chicken with the tomato wedges and top it with green onions.

7) In a stainless steel ladle or small pot, heat the sesame
oil over a low flame until bubbles appear, approximately one minute. Turn off the heat and pour the oil evenly over the green onions and chicken. Strain the Vinaigrette and drizzle it over the chicken and vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Comments 34

  1. Kim Bee

    This looks like one delicious salad. I would love to take cooking classes. There’s not much available here. It’s a cultural black hole here. But I am determined to learn Japanese and Chinese cooking one way or another. Off to google this lovely cookbook. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  2. Simone

    That looks absolutely delicious. I’m all into asian cooking at the moment and Japanese is definitely missing from my cookbook collection…

  3. Nan

    Jaden, did you use toasted sesame oil? I get confused by the different sesame oils available.

  4. angela billows

    This looks perfect for a late summer lunch! Thanks for the reminder on Debra’s book, her blog is very interesting and thought provoking about living in a foreign culture and looks gorgeous! I’m sure the book is the same and I’ll be putting it on my wish list!

  5. joey

    Sounds delicious!! Love the step of pouring the hot sesame oil over the chicken, before the dressing…mmm!

  6. Kelly

    Jaden, would it make too much of a difference if I skip the vinaigrette? Only, a lot of the ingredients for it are not staples in my kitchen and I’m on a budget 🙁

  7. Amy

    I made this last night, pretty much exactly as it was written, with the addition of putting it on a bed of lettuce. Everyone (husband, mom, dad, friend, me) loved it. 2 thumbs up for this tasty recipe!

  8. Bex

    Oh My! This looks heavenly and I have everything but the ginger on hand. Always looking for a yummy Asian dressing to make. Can’t wait to give this a try.

  9. Kim in MD

    This looks so refreshing and delicious! I love the lemon juice in the vinaigrette!

  10. jules p

    this looks delicious. I love all of your recipes. Many of them…are now a big part of my family favorites!

  11. Lee aka Kaptainkosh

    Hi Jaden! I love reading your blog. Really great recipes and this Sesame chicken salad looks delicious.

    I live in New York City and recently started my own cooking blog called “Cookin’ with the Kaptain” – I’m new to cooking and would love to hear what you think about my blog!

    Take a look and let me know what you think.

    Thanks – KK

  12. Mary C.

    I made this last night and served it to guests for dinner. It was very simple and easy and had such a light and delicious flavor. Thank you!

  13. jules p

    I made this for my family last night and I thought they were going to fight over who got the last bit. It was a great salad. Great and easy recipe!

  14. Bent Spork

    Love the idea, wasn’t so excited about the vinaigrette; way too much soy sauce for my taste. Had to make another dressing. Will certainly make this again, but with a modified dressing. The ratio in other sesame vinaigrette recipes is 3 vinegar : 1 soy sauce, not 4 soy sauce : 1 vinegar. And typically a little water too. Really seems like a typo. I found it gross. The concept is great though and I’m interested to see what other types of dishes are in the cookbook. Definitely enjoyed the vegetables and chicken (I used roasted chicken) with a dressing and, for a change, without the lettuce. Thanks for sharing!

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  17. Amanda

    Fantastic idea thanks. Made it yesterday for my kids and it went down a treat. Only addition I made was some lightly roasted pumpkin seeds sprinkled over the top. My family love these and they’re so good for them.

  18. Nicole

    Hi SteamyKitchen!

    Not only am I going to make this soon, I would love to serve it in that exact same dish. Can you tell where I might find it? It looks fabulous served like that!!! Thanks!

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