Instead of using the "kitchen sink" approach, this crunchy, colorful Chinese Chicken Salad has a carefully-curated selection of vegetables and toppings. The dressing is delicious and doubles as a marinade and dipping sauce, too.
To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, ginger, and sesame oil. Allow flavors to blend at room temperature while preparing the rest of the salad.
In a large bowl, add chicken, green and red cabbage, carrots, scallions, and cilantro. Drizzle with salad dressing and toss to combine. Sprinkle with chow mein noodles and sesame seeds.
Rice vinegar: It might also be labeled as “rice wine vinegar” (they are the same thing).
Hoisin sauce: Usually used as a sweet glaze for meat, hoisin sauce is made from soy beans, fennel, garlic, and chili peppers. Easy to find in the Asian foods section of any grocery.
Canola oil: Or any neutral oil, like grapeseed oil or light olive oil.
Fresh ginger: Do not substitute ground (powdered) ginger because it doesn’t have the same flavor.
Chicken: Leftover rotisserie chicken or yesterday's grilled chicken breasts work great. You can even use some of the salad dressing as a marinade before cooking, to boost the flavor up even more (Safety first: make extra dressing for the marinade, then discard whatever comes into contact with raw meat).
Napa cabbage: Lighter in texture (almost fluffy) than regular cabbage. If you can't find it, use Savoy cabbage, bok choy, or plain old green cabbage. Find out how to cut cabbage like a pro, too.
Cilantro: If you don't like cilantro, leave it out or substitute something else (fresh basil or parsley would both be good).
Yield: This recipe makes 6 generous, entrée-sized servings.
Storage: Store leftover salad covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Cabbage holds up better than lettuce, so this salad has staying-power.
Make ahead: Make the dressing up to 4 days before you need it. Just store in the refrigerator until you're ready. The salad is best when tossed just before you're ready to eat.