Thursday, April 9, 2009
Barefoot Bloggers: Chinese Chicken Salad
I’m really into salads, so for my first Barefoot Bloggers’ recipe, this dish was right up my alley. Believe it or not, the Parties! Cookbook is one of only two Barefoot Contessa books that I previously did not own. What a perfect excuse to purchase another! As I’m sure my new blogging friends will appreciate, buying a new Barefoot Contessa cookbook is like that first bite of a rich goat cheese…pure decadence! (I didn’t use a chocolate analogy because I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.) Never mind making the recipes, I simply love reading these inspiring and creative books.
While I love salads, I initially thought that a Chinese Chicken Salad was a little passé. I think in Los Angeles, we’ve been doing Chinese Chicken Salads since about the opening of California Pizza Kitchen in the early 90s. Notwithstanding my reticence, I was excited to begin cooking as a proud new member of the Barefoot Bloggers.
This recipe was fantastic! The dressing is so flavorful and delicious; it turned an old boring menu item into a modern tangy dish. I was thinking the name itself, Chinese Chicken Salad, is such an understated name for this delicious salad. Maybe “Zesty Chinese Chicken Salad…”?
I did make a few changes to the recipe. First, I reduced the salad portion in half since there are only two of us. Second, I added ½ head of chopped cabbage to give my dish more of a “salad” feel.
As for the dressing, I made the whole amount, but used a little less than ½ of it on the salad. Also, I took one look at the amount of salt called for in the dressing and thought there was “NO WAY.” Glad my instincts were on. I cut the salt in half and used a low sodium soy sauce and still thought the dressing was slightly over salted!
Finally, I substituted rice wine vinegar for apple cider vinegar. There is only one reason for this substitution: I went to use my apple cider vinegar and saw that the expiration date was June of 06! Not joking. The worst part about this is that I USED the same apple cider vinegar last week in my vegetable cole slaw! Thinking back, something did seem a little off at the time. You can tell I have a highly trained palate! No matter. The dressing was absolutely delicious with the rice wine vinegar.
Tangy Chinese Chicken Salad
Adaptation of Ina Garten’s Chinese Chicken Salad:
4 split chicken breasts (bone in, skin on)
Good Olive Oil
3/4 pound of asparagus
1/2 head of cabbage
1 red bell pepper
5 scallions (white and green parts), sliced diagonally.
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted
For the dressing:
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup of soy sauce
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 teaspoons of minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1/3 cup of peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Set aside until cool. Once cool, remove the meat from the bones, discard skin and shred the chicken into bite-size pieces.
Blanch the asparagus in pot of boiling water for 3 minutes. Immediately plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and cut into strips. Cut the peppers into strips (same size as asparagus) Chop the cabbage in a food processor, using a thick blade attachment.
Combine the chicken, asparagus, peppers and cabbage into large bowl.
Whisk ingredients for dressing and pour over salad. Add scallions and sesame seeds.