Thursday, September 6, 2012

Korean Chicken Salad

I am of the opinion that most things in life are not improved by the addition of mayonnaise.  I know that BLT's and other sandwiches need at least a touch of mayonnaise to be palatable (otherwise they are just too dry) and you need a little mayo in tuna salad.  But I can't really think of anything else that is improved by the addition of mayonnaise.  I have heard that you can use mayonnaise instead of butter when making grilled cheese sandwiches to help the outside of the sandwich toast up golden brown but I haven't tried it out so I can't speak to that.  But when Alex wanted to add mayonnaise to our Korean chicken salad I was very skeptical.  I think I made stink face at him when he brought it up.  And again when I tried it.  Had I been about two decades younger I probably would have thrown in an "ewwwww - mayonnaise!"  But it was really good with just a touch of mayonnaise!  The kewpie mayonnaise somehow pulled it all together - it thickened the dressing a little and gave it body, plus it balanced all of the flavors out somehow and added some sweetness and a touch of tartness/acidity.  It was yummy and it made the chicken salad (which was already pretty good but missing something), just that much better.  I heart this chicken salad, which by extension might mean I heart kewpie mayonnaise.  But let's not be too hasty.

P.S. The chicken by itself was really delicious and would make an excellent entree, or you could use the meat for sandwiches or soups or other things.  I was set on poached chicken breasts because I think their gentle chicken flavor and texture works really well for chicken salads, but Alex prefers roast chicken breasts (hence Alex's Roast Chicken Breasts).  Since he was cooking he got to choose the cooking method and in this instance, I might have to agree that he was right as I think we will be making those chicken breasts again in the future!

Recipe after the jump!

Korean Chicken Salad

For chicken:
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp Korean red pepper flakes
1 tbsp peanut oil
For dressing:
2 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
2 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp sesame seeds

2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp Korean red pepper flakes
For salad:
10 oz shredded cabbage (we used most of a 14 oz. bag of coleslaw mix with green cabbage and carrots)
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced on the bias
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
3 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp kewpie mayonnaise
(to taste)

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Rinse the chicken and pat dry.  Season the chicken breasts liberally with s&p, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes.  Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet (or other heavy, oven-safe skillet) over medium to medium-high heat.  Add peanut oil.  Once oil is hot, place chicken in the skillet skin-side down.  Brown for about 5 minutes.  Turn the chicken over and place skillet in oven.  Roast chicken for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven, baste the chicken with pan juices.  Return the pan to the oven.  Roast 5 additional minutes (until chicken juices run clear when you pierce the chicken with a sharp knife).

Remove the chicken from the oven.  Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before shredding.  Shred the chicken with your hands or forks.  Set aside.

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together.  Set aside.

Place the vegetables in a large bowl.  Add shredded chicken.  Pour half of the dressing over the vegetables and carefully mix them together.  Taste and add more dressing as necessary.  Add mayonnaise to taste and mix well.  


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