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Asian-Style Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette

June 21, 2011

After a seemingly long winter and a half-hearted spring, summer is finally here.  This means that the sun will once again shine outside my office, luring me to more fun activities as I sit in a chilly, air conditioned room.  I hope that somewhere in my job description is listed daydreaming for I find myself doing a lot of it this time of year.  My job over the next few weeks is to (hopefully) turn at least some of these dreams into actual plans.

On the home front however, summer’s arrival means an abrupt change in my cooking pattern.  A stark contrast to my office environment, the skylights and windows lining our un-airconditioned home leaves virtually no escape from the heat.  The oven goes on vacation and the stove’s duties become considerably lighter.  The outdoor grill gets dusted off and lighter fare dominates the menu.

I came up with this Asian-style salad last week in an attempt to add something new to our rotation.  With the exception of the wonton wrappers all the ingredients are always available in my kitchen.  I just happened to purchase them for another idea but they helped to complete this salad instead.  The fried wonton strips (with a light sprinkling of Chinese five-spice powder) crown a bed of mixed greens, cilantro, jicama, carrots, scallions and juicy chicken poached in chicken stock.  I left out the noodles that seem to be a staple in restaurant Asian salads but feel free to add them for a more substantial serving.

The star of this salad is the simple vinaigrette.  It is certainly no innovation in salad dressings but I had never thought to bring together my Asian condiments with peanut butter before; I was so pleased with the results.  The spice component came from some homemade chili oil that was given to me by the owner of a local Chinese restaurant and it added a nice kick to the vinaigrette without dominating the other ingredients.  Better yet, I discovered that the flavor much improves the next day–I would know since I ate this salad for lunch three days in a row and I never tired of it.  It’s cool, refreshing, spicy and perfect for the hot days to come.

Hello, Summer!

Update 6/28/2011: This recipe is being featured in Women’s Health Magazine’s online section, What We’re Reading this Week. You can check it out here.  So exciting!

Asian-Style Salad with Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette

* Makes slightly less than a cup of vinaigrette, enough to serve 6

For the Vinaigrette

  • 1 heaping tablespoon peanut butter (I use Adam’s Organic Creamy PB)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard (use Chinese hot mustard if you have it)
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili oil (adjust amount depending on type you use)
  • 1/8 cup sesame oil
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil (or other neutral oil)
For the Salad
* Adjust portions according to number of people you plan to serve
  • mixed greens
  • poached chicken, shredded (I poached chicken breasts in chicken stock, spices and lemon juice for 10 – 12 minutes)
  • jicama, sliced into strips
  • carrots, peeled into thin ribbons
  • scallions, both green and white parts
  • cilantro, chopped
  • fried wonton strips (sprinkled with Chinese five spice, optional)
  • dry roasted peanuts
  1. To prepare the vinaigrette, combine all the ingredients except the oils in a bowl.  Then slowly whisk in the oils until well combined.  Set aside.
  2. To prepare the chicken for the salad, put the chicken pieces in a small pot and add enough chicken stock to cover the meat.  Add additional spices and/or lemon juice (about half a lemon) but this is optional.  Simmer for about 1o minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Drain and cool then shred with a fork.
  3. To prepare the wonton, heat up a bit of oil in a pan.  Cut the wonton wrappers into strips, sprinkle with five spice powder (optional) and fry lightly.  Note that the strips cook very fast, less than a minute so don’t leave them unattended.  Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel and set aside.
  4. Assemble the salad on a large platter or individual plates and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

23 Comments leave one →
  1. June 21, 2011 11:22 AM

    This looks awesome! I love Asian salads, and this one sounds perfect. Saving it to try soon!

  2. June 21, 2011 12:19 PM

    Oh I’d love to try this dressing! Only thing I need is peanut butter. I know I have kids but we never had peanut butter sandwich! It’ll be on my shopping list. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  3. June 21, 2011 12:19 PM

    I better leave some peanut butter for this. Bad habit of not stopping to eat peanut butter once I get started ;-). This looks fabulous and I love, love the texture!

  4. June 21, 2011 1:37 PM

    That vinaigrette looks awesome!

  5. June 21, 2011 1:39 PM

    What a fabulous combination of flavors! The pictures are so appetizing I want to grab a fork and dig right in!

  6. June 21, 2011 1:48 PM

    oh yes! I love this – just had a thai-inspired salad last night so I’m totally with you on the summer salad thing.

  7. June 21, 2011 2:12 PM

    Oooh I love the spicy twist! Great dressing to have on hand, to force myself to eat more salads! This one though looks amazing! The crunchies dont hurt though… =)

  8. June 21, 2011 3:31 PM

    A wonderful salad indeed!! I’m a big fan of peanut butter, and an even bigger fan of it in Asian dishes. I have a couple that use it in salads, and these have always received thumbs up. I’m eager to give this one a shot too.
    Glad summer is finally there! We are settling into a fairly nice spring time, foggy in the am, then clearing to a fairly nice day only to be met with fog again in the evening. At least there is sun for a good portion of the day and I’m not cold anymore!

  9. June 21, 2011 7:22 PM

    What a wonderful salad! Spicy, crunchy, nutty…and that dressing. What a great idea to use peanut butter for the dressing! This would certainly brighten up my Kiwi winter 🙂

  10. June 21, 2011 8:19 PM

    Wow, that sounds like a salad I would love to eat right now! Gorgeous photos and I love the dressing!

  11. June 22, 2011 12:30 AM

    What a beautiful presentation. I just love your carrot ribbons and the dressing sounds really good. I am looking forward to trying this soon.

  12. June 22, 2011 9:19 AM

    This looks fantastic! Great post, too, I enjoyed reading it. “Half-hearted spring”, I like that phrase!

  13. June 22, 2011 9:55 AM

    Everything about this salad looks awesome! I’m sure the taste was amazing too =)

  14. June 22, 2011 5:02 PM

    Welcome Summer, I think we’re all appreciating it! I love the way you put this Asian style chicken salad together, the dressing sounds delicious with the peanut butter and mustard. The carrot ribbons looks like a beautiful little crown holding all the greens and goodies in your salad 😉

  15. June 22, 2011 8:27 PM

    So happy to hear summer finally arrived on your street.
    Sometimes I wish I leave the oven and the stove off but then I know Tiffany can’t last all day just my eating salads and fruits so the stove is turned on and the soup pot is again taken out of the cabinet.

    Your salad looks amazing, the photos are simply stunning.

  16. June 23, 2011 9:09 AM

    I’m so glad summer is here finally! The ironic part is that I was waiting for my holidays to bake more but, just like you, when the heat comes the oven goes on holiday and I live on salads. This might just become one of my favorite too 🙂

  17. magicofspice permalink
    June 23, 2011 4:17 PM

    Such a gorgeous salad for summer and I love this vinaigrette!

  18. June 26, 2011 10:54 AM

    I love Asian salads… and peanut butter dressings ;-)) My garden is late this year, so will have salad greens shortly.

  19. June 27, 2011 9:44 AM

    I found your blog through your guest post on Sippity Sup – so glad I did! Such wonderful recipes, words and photos. Absolutely love the look of this Asian salad. Not sure if I’ll be able to find the jicama here in Ireland but everything else is available in my local Asian shop so I must give it a go!

    Looking forward to keeping an eye on your future blog posts and perusing your archives 🙂

  20. June 27, 2011 10:00 AM

    Grilling and salads sounds like great healthy faire for the summer. This salad and dressing look like they’re right up my alley, and I love wonton strips! I recently bought a bag of pre-made strips since frying is always such a chore, so I’ll need to hunt down the 5-spice to try that. I’m so bad that I’ll turn on the AC to bake. I should follow your lead and make more salads (be healthier) this summer and help save the environment by keeping the AC off. 🙂


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