I always have consistent cravings for anything Asian. Growing up in an Asian American household, we had a lot of Korean and Chinese flavors in the kitchen.
In my opinion, what makes a really good Chinese Chicken Salad, is not the vegetables or the meat (although that’s important), but it’s all about the dressing, and in this case the marinade. In this Chinese Chicken Salad, I make sure to use ingredients that give that classic Chinese restaurant taste and feel. Let me explain.
Key Ingredients to Make Chinese Chicken Salad
Sesame oil will give the dish an extra layer of flavor. It will provide a nuttiness to the dish that will balance out the citrus.
Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
You cannot skip out on this ingredient, or use store bought orange juice! You have to use fresh. Not only will this cut any heaviness from the oil or chicken, but it will add a pop of sweetness against the salty base of the dressing.
Usually, vinegar is used in conjunction with oil to act as the acidic component of the dressing. Rice vinegar plays this role, no doubt, but it’s not its only purpose in this Chinese Chicken Salad.
Usually, white vinegar is super harsh and sour. Although rice vinegar looks very similar to regular white vinegar, it’s much sweeter. This will give the dressing a much more balanced flavor profile. That’s why you don’t see sugar or honey in this dressing, because the combo of the vinegar and the citrus provides enough sweetness in relationship to the other flavors, making it so you don’t need to add more sweetener.
Chui Chow Style Chili Oil
This oil is probably my absolute favorite ingredient for all Chinese cooking. This is the real star when it comes to re-creating that Chinese restaurant taste. First introduced to me by my mom, it’s a savory chili sauce made from preserved chilies prepared from the original recipe from Chui Chow, China. You can use it in pretty much anything including stir fry sauces, marinades, dressings, dipping sauces, and more. I always buy the Lee Kum Kee Brand because it’s high quality.
Fried Chow Mein Noodles
Although this ingredient is not a part of the dressing or marinade, I still believe it’s essential to provide that Chinese Restaurant feel. I remember as a kid, when my family and I visited one of our favorite Chinese restaurants, Hunan, the lady that always served us (who usually gave me extra fortune cookies), came out of the kitchen with this HUGE bag FULL of fortune cookies and fried Chow Mein noodles. It was in this clear plastic bag, and it was about twice the size of my head. I felt like I literally hit the jackpot. This ingredient will give it the necessary salty crunch that can’t be matched by anything “healthier”.
Chinese Chicken Salad
- 5 cups Napa cabbage chopped
- 1 cup red cabbage chopped
- 1 cup carrots matchsticks
- ½ cup green onions chopped (or ½ bunch)
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 1 11 oz can mandarin oranges drained and rinsed
- 1 cup fried Chow Mein noodles
- 1 chicken breast
- 2 tbs. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. chiu chow style chili oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ tsp. ground white pepper
- 1 tbs. oil
- ½ cup Avocado oil
- ¼ cup Asian rice vinegar
- ¼ tsp. ground red chili pepper
- 1 tsp. Sesame oil
- 3 tbs. freshly squeezed orange juice
- 3 tbs. soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic crushed or grated
- 1" knob ginger grated
- Cut the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces, and place in a small bowl. Pour in the soy sauce, chiu chow oil, minced garlic, and ground white pepper. If you don’t have ground white pepper, you can just use regular black pepper.
- Let it sit in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. If you have time, then preferably overnight.
- While the meat is marinating, combine into a small bowl the salad dressing ingredients. Combine the avocado oil, rice vinegar, ground pepper, sesame oil, orange juice, soy sauce, grated garlic, and grated ginger, and whisk together until well combined. If you have a blender or small food processor, you can also put all the salad dressing ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth. This will ensure that all of the ingredients are combined.
- Next, heat a medium-sized pan on medium-high heat with 1 tbs. of oil. Then using a pair of tongs, dump all the cubed chicken breast into the pan and spread evenly across the surface. You should hear a sizzle from the chicken when it hits the pan.
- Let the chicken cook on one side for 3-5 minutes. Then toss the chicken and let it cook for another 5-10 minutes.
- Once the chicken is done, assemble the salad ingredients into a large bowl. Combine the Napa cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, green onions, sliced almonds, mandarin oranges, and fried Chow Mein Noodles. Toss to combine.
- Then dish the salad into individual sized bowls, top with ½ cup of the cooked chicken. Add some more fried Chow Mein noodles on top, and drizzle with the salad dressing.
If you make this recipe, I would love to know! Just take a picture, post it to Instagram and tag me @audreythena_foodgoddess or use the hashtag #audreythena and let me know what you think!
If you want to browse more Chinese-inspired recipes, then check out my Chicken Green Bean Mushroom Stir-fry! It’s perfect for a weeknight dinner.