My Asian slaw (above) is a slight adaptation I made to my family's "famous" Chinese Chicken Salad recipe. Whenever we get together with the WHOLE family, it is always a potluck. My mom has 3 sisters and a brother and they all live here in So. Cal. so add their kids (my cousins and often significant others ... none are married yet) and my sisters and all our kids... Well it is a big group. And chances are somebody makes the Chinese Chicken Salad as their contribution to the meal.
The reason it is so popular with our family is twofold, I think. Firstly, it is mild yet very flavorful and appeals to most everyone. And secondly, it is made with cabbage. Cabbage is the perfect salad when you need to make it ahead of time and serve a large group. It can hold up well to the dressing and does not easily wilt or get soggy when sitting fully dressed on a counter for several hours! Really it is the best way to go if you have a large group. For as good as a green salad may be, once it wilts, gets soggy and turns to a mush of old lettuce... who likes it?
When you are in a quandary about what to make for your next potluck, I urge you to offer up this salad. It is so easy and I have yet to meet someone who didn't like it!
Chinese Chicken Salad
1 small head of cabbage (I buy pre-shredded bags and use 1 to 2)
4 green onions chopped
1 package of chicken flavored Top Ramen®
2 Tbls. sliced almonds
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1 Tbls. butter
cooked chicken (about two large full breasts)
Normally I bake two or three chicken breasts with bones and skin in the oven with light seasoning and olive oil. When cooked through, let it cool. Shred or cut up chicken into bite size pieces. Can be done up to a day ahead.
Crumble up the Ramen® noodles and set the seasoning packet aside. In a medium saute pan melt the butter and add the crumbled noodles, almonds and sesame seeds. Saute on on medium to low heat until the noodles and almonds begin to brown and get crispy. Take off the heat and set aside to cool in a small bowl. Can be done several hours or up to a day ahead.
Make the dressing.
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 packet of seasoning from the Top Ramen®
Salt and Pepper to taste
(I add a little chili oil and a tiny bit of soy sauce too)
Whisk together all the above ingredients. Can be made a day ahead.
In a large bowl combine the cabbage, green onions, chicken, toasted Ramen, almonds and sesame seeds and toss with the dressing. And voilá! There you have it. If I make it though, I almost always add red and/or yellow bell peppers to give it some color and add some vegetable content. Other great additions I have tried are celery, carrots, and mushrooms.
Now as I said, these photos are a slight adaptation to the above recipe. I had made the salad one evening when my parents were over. I didn't use all of the dressing or the toasted topping though. So the next day when deciding what to eat for myself, I decided on this little twist.
In a bowl, I tossed the cabbage with red bell peppers, cilantro and green onions with the dressing. I placed it on the plate and topped with the toasted noodles, almonds and sesame seeds and garnished with more cilantro. I then placed fresh, warm, grilled chicken and sliced avocado on my plate and drizzled with a tiny bit of chili oil. I LOVE heat!
The cilantro worked so perfectly with the dish that I may include it the next time I make the regular recipe. And the warm chicken and avocado really rounded out the meal. Let me tell you. It was filling, flavorful and a more than satisfying dinner for a warm summer evening. DO try this at home.