This Chinese chicken salad is the best Chinese chicken salad you are going to eat. Seriously. I know, you aren’t supposed to call any food post “the best”, because the hundreds of recipes for “the best chocolate chip cookie” all differ a little and it’s very subjective. Plus, I called Sarabeth’s English muffins the best, and have since discovered another recipe from Bread Illustrated I like a little more. But, Chinese chicken salad is a different thing altogether from a chocolate chip cookie or an English muffin. And I am certain you won’t find a better Chinese chicken salad anywhere else, so you might as well make it for yourself with guidance from Modern Potluck.
This is the only picture I managed to snap before my Chinese chicken salad was completely decimated (clearly, it was already halfway there). People loved it.
Since it comes from Modern Potluck, this recipe for Chinese chicken salad is scaled to feed a crowd, but there are two easy solutions to that. Halve the recipe or make the components, only dressing the amount of salad you’re going to eat and keeping the reminder of the salad mix and dressing separately in the fridge. I urge you to consider the latter approach, because we should all eat more salad and this salad is one you’re going to want to eat a ton of. Don’t be intimidated by the extra step of making your own salt-and-pepper cashews. It takes under 10 minutes to make them and they add gorgeous crunch, texture, and another dimension of heat to the finished salad. Vibrant from the perfect balance of salt, sweet, and acidity, this salad is equally at home in winter or summer, at a party, family dinner table, or solo lunch box.
Original source: Modern Potluck
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 1½ cups unsalted cashews, roasted
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons tahini
- 1½-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, finely grated
- ½ teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
- ½ cup grapeseed oil
- 1 large head napa cabbage (2½ pounds)
- 3 cups cooked chicken meat (from 3 pound chicken), cut into bite-sized pieces, chilled or at room temperature
- 4 medium carrots
- 6 ounces sugar snap or snow peas
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- ¾ cup salt-and-pepper candied cashews or roasted, salted cashews
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small saucepan, whisk the sugar and water together, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue boiling until a deep amber caramel color forms. This will happen rather suddenly, in about 6-10 minutes, depending on your heat level, so pay attention and do not burn the sugar water.
- Remove the pan from the heat, quickly stir in the salt and pepper, then the cashews.
- Rapidly spread the cashews out onto the prepared parchment in a single layer.
- Let stand to cool, at least 20 minutes. Break into pieces and chop into bite-sized pieces.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the lemon juice, soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, tahini, ginger, and ½ teaspoon chili-garlic sauce together. Gradually add the oil while whisking continuously. Taste and add the remaining ½ teaspoon chili-garlic sauce if you prefer a spicier dressing.
- Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, halve the head, and shred the crosswise into fine strips crosswise. Finely shred or julienne the carrots. Thinly slice the snap/snow peas on a diagonal. Roughly chop the cilantro leaves. Toss everything together in a large bowl.
- Dress the salad within 15 minutes of planning to serve it. Drizzle with about ¾ of the dressing, add the cashews, then toss. If desired, add the remaining dressing and additional cilantro.
- Serve, with more chili-garlic sauce on the side.
- It's best to dress the salad only just before serving it. Thus, keep the dressing, cashews, and salad in three separate containers if making it ahead.