Extreme heat and humidity can do funny things to your brain – especially if you’re from Seattle, where fleece jackets are considered summer attire. I keep starting projects from my perpetual To Do list (Sell Things on Ebay, Vacuum Crumbs out of Kitchen Drawers, Start Kids’ Scrap Books) but quickly lose focus and end up napping with the cats. Thankfully we have air conditioning, but it can barely keep up with these record heat waves. Not surprisingly, there hasn’t been a whole lot of cooking going on in the kitchen this summer!
Even though I’ve already posted an Asian chicken salad recipe and it’s a little soon to be repeating themes, this salad should be in everyone’s summer rotation because you can grab all the ingredients on the way home from the pool and have a non-cooked home-cooked meal ready in less than 10 minutes. (This does not include the time spent picking up wet swimsuits off the floor and unloading the additional groceries, because inevitably if you’ve brought hungry kids into the grocery store you will end up with at least a few Cheetos, Trix or Pop-Tarts in your bags.)
This recipe is a variation of Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois Chicken Salad – which now you can find at airports and food courts across the country but I first experienced years ago at his Santa Monica hot spot, Chinois on Main. (Jennifer and Brad were leaving just as we arrived!) I’ve modified the dressing (which has an almost wasabi-like kick from the Coleman’s mustard) and will often use packaged cole slaw mix and julienned carrots instead of or in addition to chopped napa cabbage. Feel free to add any vegetables you like and/or have on hand: thinly sliced red bell pepper, julienned snow peas, cucumbers, whole snap peas, etc. For fancier occasions, you could make your own won ton strips (see how-to here at the end of Thai Crunch Salad) instead of using the thin rice noodles (which are actually made from wheat and rice flours).
Chinois-y Chicken Salad
6 servings (can be doubled or tripled)
- 1 Tablespoon Coleman’s dry mustard powder (in spice aisle)
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar (unseasoned)
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 Tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 Tablespoon honey (or sugar or agave nectar)
- ½ cup peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
- 4 cups shredded or sliced rotisserie chicken (or poached or grilled chicken breasts)
- 6 cups of any of the following: shredded Napa cabbage, shredded red cabbage, romaine or packaged coleslaw mix
- La Choy rice noodles (or fried won ton strips) for garnish (approximately 1 Tbsp rice noodles per serving as a rough guide)
- Optional: julienned carrots or red bell pepper, sliced cucumber, cilantro leaves
Make the dressing:
Add first 5 ingredients to a blender or beaker of an immersion blender; slowly add peanut/vegetable oil with blender running until all incorporated.
Or– try this low-tech method: add all ingredients to a clean jar or plastic container with lid and shake vigorously. Shake again just before tossing salad. (Dressing will keep for weeks in the refrigerator.)
Assemble the salad:
To a large salad bowl, add cabbage, vegetables and chicken.
Add some of the dressing and toss; taste and add more dressing if necessary. Better to have to add more than to overdress. Add rice noodles and toss again right before serving. (For picky kids, assemble separate ingredients on a plate and provide a small ramekin of dressing for dipping.)
Chopsticks optional but fun!