We have gone from winter to summer practically overnight here in Upstate New York (who needs seasons anymore?) And just like that, I start craving all the things cold and crunchy, this happens every year, I have had enough of the heavier winter meals, and all I want is lighter fare which usually includes a ton of salads.
You see variations of this salad at picnics frequently, probably because Crispy Chinese Chicken Salad is the perfect warmer weather salad. The Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad is super tasty with the hoisin and ginger flavored dressing, there is no cooking required if you decide to use a rotisserie chicken for your meat.
I have noticed some people use raw ramen noodles as the “crunchy” element, and while this is still quite tasty, I prefer the chow mein noodles, although they don’t stay as crispy as long as the ramen once they are mixed into the salad. You have a couple of hours before the chow mein noodles really begin to soften up, but in my opinion, it is worth the effort to make the salad and bring the chow mein noodles in a separate container and sprinkle them on top of the salad right before serving.
The cabbage used in this recipe is Nappa Cabbage, which is a has a more delicate flavor and texture than your standard head of cabbage. This is a cabbage that even self-proclaimed non-cabbage eaters seem to enjoy (in my family at least). If you are in a hurry, Wegmans sells Cleaned & Cut Shredded & Sliced Asian Slaw which is a combination of Nappa Cabbage, sliced carrots, and sliced celery, that works great as a quick substitute, just swing by prepared foods and grab a rotisserie chicken and you are well on your way to a great no fuss dish to pass for your picnics and potlucks.
For the Salad Dressing:
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
For the Salad:
- 4 cups cooked chicken shredded or diced
- 1 pound Nappa cabbage cored and finely shredded
- 2 cups red cabbage cored and finely shredded
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 bunch scallions thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro minced
- 1 cup chow mein noodles
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds for garnish optional
To make the dressing
- In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine oil, vinegar, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, ginger, and sesame oil. Shake vigorously until combined.Allow flavors to blend at room temperature while preparing the rest of the salad. Or, refrigerate for up to 4 days.
To make the Salad
- In a large bowl, combine the chicken, cabbage, carrots, scallions, and cilantro. Shake the dressing to recombine and pour over the salad. Toss until evenly coated. Sprinkle with chow mein noodles and sesame seeds, if using, right before serving.
Adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook.