Tag Archives: main dish

Recipe: Chinese Chicken Salad

7 Aug

Chinese Chicken Salad has undergone many iterations since it became a popular dish in the  United States early last century. One thing is certain: none of the versions appearing on US menus originated in China, where raw vegetable salads were (and are not) a prominent part of the Chinese diet. In fact, the sesame-ginger version may have come into being in California. But the ability of a dish to be adapted according to cultural preference, taste, and availability of ingredients is a key factor in its ultimate adoption, and each new dish added to a repertoire paves the way for ones that follow. So, even if this cross-cultural creation is not  “authentic,” the  combination of garlic, ginger, sesame, scallions, and soy sauce is unmistakably Asian.

This is a light dinner-time salad that somehow satisfies even the heartiest of teenage appetites. And, if that cilantro in your herb garden is nearing its peak, you can use some of it here.

Chinese Chicken Salad
Serves 8-10

4 chicken breast halves (1.5-2 lb.), sliced in half horizontally
2 tbsp. sesame seeds

Marinade
1/4 c. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 c. mirin (or dry sherry + pinch of sugar)

Salad ingredients
6 c. thinly shredded green cabbage
1/2 c. sliced scallions (about 3 scallions)
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro
2 carrots, grated
1 English cucumber, washed but unpeeled, diced into small pieces
1.5 thinly sliced hearts of romaine (about 6 c.)
1/2 c. toasted sliced almonds
chow mein noodles (optional)

Dressing
6 tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
6 tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. dry ground ginger, or 1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1.5 tbsp. sesame oil
6 tbsp. canola oil
sprinkle chilli flakes/crushed red pepper
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Marinate chicken in marinade for about 15-30 minutes.

Toast sesame seeds in large frying pan; remove from pan and set aside.  Add about a tablespoon of canola oil to the pan and cook chicken over high heat. Remove from pan, place on a cutting board, and let cool.

Add salad ingredients (except chow mein noodles) to large salad bowl; sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. When chicken is cool, cut across the grain into bite-sized strips and add to salad bowl.

Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over salad. Toss to combine and serve immediately, with chow mein noodles on the side (if desired).

Recipe: Orange-Ginger Salmon with Ramen Cabbage Salad

30 Jul

Ramen noodles don’t frequently appear on our dinner menus, but this salad is the reason my children started eating salmon.  With cooked ramen noodles, cabbage, carrots, and cilantro (from the herb garden) in a light orange-honey dressing, it has been a family favorite for years. And since I only make this salad as an accompaniment to the salmon, the kids quickly came to appreciate the whole package. It also helps that the two parts of this meal (adapted from an old Redbook magazine recipe) look so nice together.

Orange Ginger Salmon with Ramen Cabbage Salad
Serves 5-6

Marinade
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. orange juice
3 tbsp. honey
1 heaping tsp. ground ginger, or 1.5 tbsp. freshly grated ginger

2 lb. salmon fillets
3 (3-oz.) packages Oriental-flavored ramen noodles, broken into halves
1 (1o-oz.) bag grated carrots (about 4 c.)
1 (1o-oz.) bag shredded red cabbage (about 4 c.)
1/4 c. packed chopped cilantro

Dressing
3/4 c. orange juice
6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 seasoning packets from the ramen noodles

Combine marinade ingredients in glass 9×13 baking dish. Place salmon fillets in dish and let marinate while preparing the salad, turning salmon occasionally.

Combine dressing in ingredients in a large salad bowl, mix well, and add carrots and cabbage, tossing to coat. Cook noodles in boiling, unseasoned water for two minutes, drain, and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Shake the colander to remove excess water, set aside to drain further, then add to cabbage mixture and mix well.

Remove salmon from marinade and broil (or grill) about 5 minutes per side, basting with marinade. Place on platter. Just before serving, add cilantro to salad and combine. Serve salmon with salad.

Recipe: Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, and Basil

18 Jul

This dish has two advantages: First, it is another fantastic meal for hot summer days since the only part of it that requires cooking is the pasta. Second, it is a very nice way to use up some of that bumper crop of cherry tomatoes or basil from the herb garden.

Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, and Basil
Serves 6

1 pint cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or Roma cherry tomatoes
1 tsp. salt
freshly grated black pepper, to taste
1 7-8 oz. container bocconcini or ciliegine (baby mozzarella balls), drained
1 large clove garlic, very thinly sliced
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. finely shredded basil (can use an entire .75-oz. pkg from the store)
1 lb. trofie, gemelli, or any spiral pasta
1/3 c. grated Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan) cheese

Cut tomatoes in half and place in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add sliced garlic and olive oil; mix well and let marinate.

Cut the mozzarella balls into quarters (bocconcini) or halves (ciliegine). Add to tomatoes, folding in gently. Stack the basil leaves, roll them up tightly lengthwise, and slice finely, starting at one end of the roll and continuing until all the basil is nicely shredded. Sprinkle the basil on top of the tomato/mozzarella mixture.

Bring a large pot of water to boil; add a sprinkle of salt and the pasta and cook according to package directions just until pasta is al dente. Shortly before pasta is ready, remove about 1/2 c. of the cooking water and set aside.

Call all guests to the table; pasta waits for no one.

Drain pasta and return to pot. Pour tomato/mozzarella/basil mixture over drained pasta in pot and mix in the Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan) cheese. If pasta seems dry, add reserved cooking water, 1/4 c. at a time. Check seasonings; add more salt/pepper if necessary.

Serve immediately.