I was inspired to make this salad by looking at a similar one in Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook Cravings (affiliate link). I made her salad, shown below, and although I liked the idea, my tastes differ from hers.
I also wanted this salad to be easy, something I could throw together and have lunch ready for a week. I love the way when you make a salad with cabbage you do not have to worry about the dressing ruining it the next day. As you will see below I did not use the crispy wontons in my salad, they are just not realistic for me on a day to day, but they are delicious. I just prefer them on their own rather than in a salad.
I am planning on sharing more about recipes from that book that are wonderful as is, so if you own the cookbook or take it out from your local library you can give them a try.
This salad also reminds me of a salad I used to eat back east at a restaurant called Wild Rice. The salad is labeled as a Vietnamese Grilled Chicken Salad and it inspired me to alter Chrissy Teigen’s to be more like this. It may sound silly to say, but I have wonderful memories associated with Wild Rice’s salad. I used to split it with my mom when we went out to eat, just the two of us, so even making this salad at home makes me think of my mom and all the time she spent to hang out with me alone. I have to say sometimes being away from family is challenging, but I love the ability for food to transport you back to times and places you were previously and remind you of things you loved.
So on to the food.
To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Start by chopping all your vegetables and placing them in a large bowl. This salad makes quite a lot, you may need two bowls, I know I did. For the veggies, finely shred a napa cabbage and a red or purple cabbage and add to your bowl. Next take four carrots, peel them and slice off the ends, then thinly slice them into strips, cut those strips lengthwise until you have smaller than chopstick looking long strips of carrot, then chop them again until they are about 4 inches in length. Chop 1 cup of cilantro, chop 4 scallions and chop 1 cup of peanuts. Once chopped reserve a small amount of each for a garnish, add the rest to your salad bowl.
Heat an oven safe pan over medium heat and season 2 chicken breasts (mine totaled 1 pound 3 ounces, but you can add more or less depending on preference) with salt, fresh ground pepper and garlic powder. Add the chicken breasts to the hot pan and sear on both sides 3-7 minutes. Once both sides are seared, place the entire pan in the preheated oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, until you have an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Allow your chicken to cool while you make the dressing.
To make your dressing you will need a blender or food processor, if yours is not high-powered you may want to mince the garlic before adding it to the blender or food processor so you do not end up with large chunks of garlic in your dressing. To your blender add 3 peeled cloves of garlic, 1/3 of a cup of peanut oil, 1/3 of a cup of rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon of Chinese hot mustard , 3 tablespoons of reduced sodium soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon Sriracha, and 3 tablespoons of honey.
If you know based on these ingredients this will not work for you here are some suggestions. If you do not want to use peanut oil, you can use another oil of your choice, I would chose something without much flavor vegetable or olive oil would be fine. Chinese hot mustard was not challenging for me to find at my local HyVee in the Asian section, but if you cannot find it at your regular grocery store, you should be able to find it at your local Asian market. If you dislike you could replace the Sriracha with Chinese hot mustard.
Blend your dressing until smooth and creamy.
Now that your chicken has cooled, it is time to shred it. What I have found based on experience, is that if you cut your chicken breast into smaller pieces about 2-3 pieces and then attempt to shred it, you will have smaller shreds of chicken and it will be easier to shred with two forks. I would suggest that you chop it and then shred your chicken with two forks, if you have not done this before you hold the forks with the backs facing each other each digging into the chicken and then pull it apart. You can do this with your hands, it is just messier for your hands.
Add the chicken to your salad and the dressing and toss to combine. Then garnish with leftover cilantro, peanuts, scallions and 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds. Eat and enjoy for today and probably the next few.
Asian Chicken Salad
-1 head napa cabbage
-1 head purple or red cabbage
-4 carrots, peeled
-1 cup of cilantro
-1 cup toasted peanuts
-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
-freshly ground pepper
-1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
-3 cloves of garlic, peeled
-1/3 cup of peanut oil
-1/3 cup of rice vinegar
-1 teaspoon Chinese mustard
-3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
-1 teaspoon sesame oil
-1 teaspoon Sriracha
-3 tablespoons honey
-1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Shred both of the cabbages and add to a large bowl. Chop the carrot into thin slices. Slice the carrots then into lengthwise strips and then chop them until they are about 4 inches in length, add them to the salad bowl.
- Chop the scallions, peanuts and cilantro reserving a small amount of each as a garnish about 1/8 of a cup. Add the rest to the salad bowl.
- Heat an oven safe pan over medium heat. Season chicken breast with salt, freshly ground pepper and garlic powder on both sides. Add chicken to the hot pan and sear it on both sides 3-7 minutes Once both sides are seared place pan in the oven and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees about 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool, chop each chicken breast into 2-3 pieces and then shred with forks. Add shredded chicken to salad bowl.
- To a high powered blender or food processor add garlic cloves, peanut oil, rice vinegar, mustard, soy sauce, sesame oil, Sriracha, and honey. Blend until dressing reaches a smooth consistency. Add dressing to salad if serving immediately if not reserve and add right before serving. Toss the salad with the dressing.
- Top with scallions, cilantro, peanuts and sesame seeds for garnish.
If you do not not like Sriracha, replace it with mustard instead.
If using regular soy sauce add one tablespoon at a time and taste before adding more.
If not using peanut oil, use another not flavorful oil in its place that is also liquid so it will blend nicely.