This Chinese Chicken Salad has already become my “salad of the summer” and I’m quite sure I’ll be making it well into other seasons of the year. Incredibly fresh and contrasting ingredients like crunchy, shredded cabbage, sweet, garden-fresh carrots, chunks of cucumber and sliced scallions. Then add sweet segments from fresh oranges and tender, shredded chicken. More color and flavor is added with a toss of fresh or frozen peas, and depending on what’s in season, I like to use sugar-snap peas or slivered snow peas. Then sprinkle a generous helping of sliced almonds and toasted sesame seeds.
And the dressing! This fresh-from-scratch Peanut Sauce Recipe doubles as the perfect Chinese chicken salad dressing or as a chicken satay sauce. It doesn’t take long to blend the dressing together, but why not make it ahead of time to speed up the prep even further?
Speaking of the time it takes to prep this salad, if your chicken is pre-cooked and the dressing made ahead of time, you can have dinner on the table in about 15 minutes. I’ve found the best method for cooking chicken breasts for this salad is to gently boil them until an instant-read thermometer reads 160F degrees in the center of the thickest part, but you could add grilled chicken or even left-over rotisserie chicken.
Chinese Chicken Salad also easily converts to a raw vegan-friendly salad simply by omitting the chicken. Change it up a bit but adding some red bell pepper, jalapeno slices, avocado and even broccoli or shredded brussel sprouts. The green cabbage is refreshing and crunchy, but you could use any dark leafy lettuce and some slices of red cabbage instead. Switch out the almonds for cashews or Spanish peanuts.
This recipe is so versatile, so healthy, and so tasty, you’ll be craving it during the hot summer months especially when turning on the oven is a definite no-go.
- ½ cup soy sauce or tamari (tamari is the gluten-free option)
- ½ cup regular peanut butter (not peanut butter that needs stirring)
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 cup canola oil (expeller-pressed is health option)
- Salad ingredients
- 1 10-ounce bag shredded coleslaw mix (or 4 cups finely shredded green cabbage)
- ¼ pound snow peas, trimmed and sliced lengthwise or sugar-snap peas removed from pods
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 1 carrot, peeled and then shredded into ribbons with the peeler (or grate with cheese grater)
- 2 scallions, sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 2 oranges, peeled, white pith removed, and cut between the membranes to remove segments
- ½ cup slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- For the dressing: In a blender, process the soy sauce (or tamari), peanut butter, vinegar, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper until combined. Add the sesame oil and canola oil and blended until smooth.
- For the salad: In a large bowl, toss together the coleslaw mix, snow peas, cucumber, carrots, scallions and parsley.
- Add about ½ cup of the dressing and toss to combine.
- Transfer to a serving platter. Top with the chicken, oranges, almonds and sesame seeds.
- Drizzle with extra dressing and serve or serve with the dressing to pass around the table.
- tip: Make the dressing ahead of time, up to several days, and keep in air-tight container in the fridge until ready to assemble.
- tip: My best chicken option is to boil 5 half breasts until internal temperature measures 160F degrees. Let cool and then shred. (Bring water to boil before adding the chicken)
- tip: If you desire and have time, toast the almond slices and the sesame seeds for even better flavor. This is nice but not critical.
- tip: Using sugar-snap peas when they're in season is fabulous for a nice flavor and pretty presentation, so I highly recommend this option. Other options besides the snow peas are using fresh from frozen petite peas, or edamame.