Chinese chicken salad starts with finely shredded Napa cabbage. Shredded chicken breast, Mandarain oranges, scallions, sesame seeds and almonds are added, then a sweet Asian dressing is drizzled over everything.
The weather is starting to warm up again…salad days are here again. I could eat a salad every day, and usually do in the summer. There are no outstanding favorites for me, because I like them all, from Greek to Mediterranean.
I often hesitate ordering a Chinese Chicken Salad in a restaurant though, because they can really pack in hidden calories with the super sweet dressings! I like to know what goes in my food, whether it’s good or bad. My mom made Chinese Chicken Salad for PTA functions in the 60’s, when it was considered “exotic”. A lot of Chinese Chicken Salad recipes use the ramen seasoning package and noodles. Those packets are loaded with chemicals, MSG and who-knows-what else. This dressing recipe is just as easy, but with simple ingredients. I also use Mandarin oranges that are canned in their own juice rather than “syrup”.
Swap out the Mandarin oranges for fresh tangerines or diced mango, and cashews or peanuts for the almonds. I used to add crunchy noodles, and sometimes I do, but since I’m getting ready for bathing suit season, I don’t need the extra carbs. The nuts give it plenty of crunch.
If I’m making this salad just for the family, I’ll add fresh chopped cilantro. If I’m making it for a big group, I omit it, since cilantro seems to have a small fan base. The good thing about using cabbage is that it holds its crunch a lot longer than lettuce, so you can make it an hour or so ahead of serving. It will even taste good the following day for lunches.
This recipe makes a lot of Chinese chicken salad.
It’s my “go-to” salad for baby and wedding showers and will make 8 luncheon portions. If you’re serving smaller portions as a side dish for a picnic or BBQ, it will serve double that.
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
- 5 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅓ cup vegetable or peanut oil
- 4 cups cooked chicken breast, either shredded, diced or chopped
- 1 bunch of green onions, slice thin on the diagonal
- 2 11 ounce cans of Mandarin Oranges, drained (or fresh oranges)
- ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
- 1 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
- 1 large head of cabbage, shredded*. (I've used regular cabbage and Napa cabbage. Napa is a bit softer than regular green cabbage. You could also use iceberg, romaine or field greens.)
- Combine the first 7 ingredients, rice wine vinegar to vegetable oil, in a small sauce pan and heat over a low heat just until sugar is dissolved. Let cool and refrigerate.
- For the salad, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss with dressing.
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