Monday, January 16, 2012

Asian Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce

For some reason, chicken salad has been on my mind recently.  I'm not exactly sure why, but I have been playing with a variety of Asian chicken salad recipes in my head - adding ingredients, switching dressings, etc.  I think it's because we have been eating fairly heavy meals recently and this is my body's way of demanding more veggies.  For tonight's chicken salad I decided to go with a somewhat Thai feel.  We made a Vietnamese chicken salad awhile ago and that was really good, so I thought we should try something new.  When I was at Whole Foods earlier I was having trouble deciding whether we should do a Thai-inspired chicken salad with cabbage, bell peppers, carrots and a spicy peanut dressing or a Japanese-inspired chicken salad with edamame, carrots, spinach, soba and a miso-ginger dressing, but I was feeling Thai tonight, so we went that route.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that we ripped off the dressing from a recipe we have made several times in the past - Asian Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce, only I thinned it out a little more than we do for the noodles.  That dressing just stuck in my head once I started thinking about doing a Thai-inspired chicken salad, so I figured that was a sign.

Dishes like this make me wish we had one of those shredder attachments to more easily/quickly (and more evenly) shred/grate the veggies.  Because that's really the only thing I can think of that I would have changed about the chicken salad.  I thought it was light, fresh, healthy and tasty.  And it had great crunch/texture from all of the crisp veggies.  Actually, I think this could make a great wrap with some baby spinach thrown in.  If we only had some tortillas in the house I would make a wrap for lunch tomorrow!  Since we have enough leftovers to make several wraps, I might have to go pick some up from the grocery store for lunch on Wednesday...

Recipe after the jump!

Asian Chicken Salad

For chicken:
1 whole bone-in, skin-on chicken breast (or two split bone-in, skin on chicken breasts)
2-inch piece ginger, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
2 whole scallions, trimmed
4 cups shredded cabbage
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, cored and cut into thin matchsticks
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
2 tbsp scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
For dressing:
2 tbsp ketjap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp ginger, minced
1 tsp sambal oelek
2 tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tbsp scallions, green and white parts, sliced
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup peanut or canola oil
Place the chicken in a large pot filled with enough water to just cover.  Add 2-inch piece of ginger and 2 whole scallions.  Bring to a boil and simmer about 20 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let the chicken stand in the cooking liquid until just warm.  Drain.  Pat dry.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove skin and shred with your fingers (or a fork) into thin pieces.  Put the chicken in a large bowl and let cool to room temperature.  Add cabbage, carrot and bell pepper.
To prepare dressing, place all ingredients (reserving 2 tbsp each of cilantro and scallions for garnish), except the peanut oil and salt in a blender or food processor and puree.  With the motor running, slowly stream in peanut oil.  The sauce should be thick and creamy, like honey.  If it is too thick, add a little water to thin it out.  Taste and adjust seasonings for spice or salt.

Toss chicken, cabbage, carrot, bell pepper, cilantro, scallions and peanuts with the dressing.  Serve.

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