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spraang break!

Recipe: asian chicken salad with ginger dressing

It’s springtime in the Rockies and it also happens to be spring break for a lot of schools. We’re in Crested Butte to enjoy what remains of both the mountain and nordic ski seasons. The high, strong sun has been delivering a pounding to the snow – visibly shrinking it by inches each day. The birds are back feeding off the patches of bare ground and filling the air with the sweet chorus of bird songs. The Slate River flows faster and fuller. If we’re lucky, we’ll squeeze out a few spring storms to keep the backcountry fresh a little longer. Either way, we’re enjoying it.

bison outside of buena vista

the collegiates

sunset over the town of crested butte

cotton candy over whetstone mountain

skate skiing before it disappears

making a snowball in spring, because rocky mountain powder is too fluffy in winter

I’ve kept our menu simple since the kitchen in Crested Butte is serviceable, but not tricked out like my kitchen back home. Besides, I don’t come here to cook. Obviously. And with the warmer weather, I’m migrating towards salads and sandwiches. So, a couple of weeks ago, we drove into Denver to shop around for a new washing machine. We didn’t find a washing machine that we liked, but we did find 2 cases of wine – go figure! I swear this is related. On our way home, we popped by Souplantation (aka Sweet Tomatoes) to grab a late lunch. One of Jeremy’s favorite salads is their wonton chicken salad. Surely I could make an even better version at home, right?

There are three components to the salad: the chicken, the ginger dressing, and the salad (vegetables and such). I guess it’s four components if you count the wonton strips, but those are optional. The chicken is simple – marinate for 30 minutes then bake for 20 minutes. You might be tempted to boil the chicken and shred it, which is perfectly acceptable, but you’d be missing out. The extra flavor from the marinade is worth the itsy bitsy amount of effort.

the chicken: chicken breasts, soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper

place it all in a bag

marinate for 30 minutes

place in a baking dish to bake

While the chicken marinates and bakes, you can prepare the dressing. Juice a lime, grate the ginger, and then mix everything together in a jar. I whisked mine together for the photograph, but placing it all in a jar and shaking it up is the easiest way to do it. You can make the dressing ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator for several days. Because of the lime juice and ginger, I don’t recommend mixing it with the salad until you are are ready to eat it. That is, don’t toss the salad and eat it several hours later because the dressing tenderizes the chicken into mush. Blegh. But otherwise, it’s a GREAT dressing.

sesame oil, soy sauce, canola oil, rice vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, ginger, lime

prepped and measured out

combine all of the dressing ingredients in a vessel

mix together

Because it’s just the two of us and because I like to make big batches of food that are quick to prepare as leftovers, I make a double batch of this salad. It keeps for up to 3 days – longer if you refresh the edamame (they get slimy after a couple of days) – as long as you keep certain components separate. The chicken, edamame, wonton strips, almonds, and dressing should be separate until you are ready to serve the salad. I keep the actual “salad” part mixed together in the refrigerator: the lettuce, napa cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, and green onions.

wonton strips, edamame, carrot, green onions, red cabbage, napa cabbage, romaine lettuce, sliced almonds

shred the napa cabbage

slice the chicken

everything prepped

I think you can purchase wonton strips, I just don’t know where. I happened to have some extra wonton skins on hand, so I sliced them into ribbons, then fried them in hot oil until crisp and golden. Alternatively, you could use the chow mein noodles (fried) they sell in grocery stores, but I really dislike those. And honestly, you should know by now that recipes for salads are extremely lenient. Don’t like edamame? Omit it! Don’t eat chicken? Use tofu! Can’t find carrots? Who cares! It’s what you want it to be. That said, if you go substituting nasty things for ingredients and then complain to me that the recipe doesn’t taste good, Ima gonna smack you.

place all but the wontons and dressing in a large bowl

pour some of the dressing on (add more to taste as needed)

toss together

top with wonton strips

Oh man, homemade is WAY better than Souplantation’s version of this salad. I like that my dressing isn’t loaded with thickeners and that I can up the amount of cabbage or reduce the sweetener in the dressing to my preference. That’s what’s so lovely about making your own food. And if you plan to serve this for a party, you can prep everything a day or two before. Just remember to mix it all together right before serving and you’re good to go. I am definitely ready for salad season.

bright, fresh flavors

Asian Chicken Salad with Ginger Dressing
[print recipe]
a mashup of recipes from Damn Delicious and Average Betty

2 chicken breasts
2 tbsps soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp white pepper

ginger dressing
2 tbsps fresh ginger, grated
3 tbsps sesame oil
3 tbsps canola oil
3 tbsps honey
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tbsp dijon mustard

6 cups romaine lettuce, torn or cut into bite-size pieces
1 1/2 cups red cabbage, shredded
1 1/2 cups napa cabbage, shredded
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 cup edamame, shelled
3-4 stalks green onions, sliced thin
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 cup wonton strips

Prepare the chicken: Place the chicken breasts, soy sauce, sesame oil, and white pepper together in a ziploc bag or bowl and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the chicken breasts and the marinade in a small baking dish and bake for 20 minutes until the juices run clear. Remove from oven and let cool. Slice into strips.

Make the dressing: Combine the grated ginger, sesame oil, canola oil, honey, lime juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and dijon mustard in a jar. Seal the jar and shake vigorously until blended. You can keep the dressing in the refrigerator for up to a week. Don’t add to the salad until you are ready to serve or else the dressing will turn the chicken to mush over time.

Assemble the salad: Put the chicken, lettuce, both napa and red cabbages, carrots, edamame, green onions, and almonds in a large bowl. Pour some of the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Add more as needed. Sprinkle with wonton strips just before serving. Serves 6.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

asian chicken sandwich vietnamese grilled beef salad ginger peanut asian slaw japanese ginger dressing

16 nibbles at “spraang break!”

  1. Kristin says:

    That sounds and looks fabulous! I look forward to trying it soon!

  2. Lisa says:

    HI, I have been wanting to have Chinese chicken salads for a long time and couldn’t find any recipe for it. This is lovely and looks so tasty. The best is all these items can be found in the market place. This will be in our house quite often.

  3. Cindi says:

    Oh yum!! I’m pinning this one! Thanks, Jen.

  4. Pey-Lih says:

    I am so midterm blues….I need another spraang break x 2. Give me some of that chicken salad! I have always wanted to make that ginger salad dressing, so now I have it. Thank you, Jen! You’re the best…. OK, back to studying…protein metabolism.

  5. jill says:

    Love the colors and can almost hear the crunch. Yummy. We have family coming in to ski next week. I hope there is a good snow, so they aren’t disappointed!

  6. anita says:

    “That said, if you go substituting nasty things for ingredients and then complain to me that the recipe doesn’t taste good, Ima gonna smack you.” – haha!! Thanks for making me laugh today! :D Can’t wait to try this!

  7. Charlie says:

    This looks great!!
    A sure to try.

    In picture #6 of the recipe pictures, you have some small glasses(?).

    I was wondering where you got them.

    Have a Joyful Day :~D

  8. Marina says:

    Just made the dressing.
    Thank you.
    Put it on soba noodles.

  9. Amanda L says:

    I made this last night and it was awesome. I really enjoy your recipes and blog.

    Thank you.

  10. Neena says:

    I made this and it was so good that my four-year-old son ate two portions! I was a little bit freaked out about adding dijon mustard to the dressing (no idea why), but I did, and it was the right thing to do. I made the exact recipe which would have been an appropriate amount for 6, but our family of 4 devoured it all. Huge win!

  11. jenyu says:

    Kristin – thanks!

    Lisa – hope you enjoy it. The ginger makes it so refreshing.

    Cindi – :) xoxo

    Pey-Lih – you’re welcome.

    jill – I hope they were around to sample the extra snow last Friday!

    anita – :)

    Charlie – oh, those are… I don’t even know what they are. BUT! I got them at Cost Plus World Market for cheap – a set of 6 that cost a few bucks. Very handy for small liquid quantities. Maybe they’re tasters? I just use them for my photos :)

    Marina – yay!

    Amanda – so happy to hear it!

    Neena – wow! Your son is a GOOD EATER. I love when kids love their vegetables :) Also, I too was wondering about the dijon mustard, but have found that a little bit helps to bind the dressing and give it an extra boost in flavor without detracting from the other flavors. We’re the same :)

  12. megan says:

    THIS ! Is my favorite salad from Souplantation, even after all these years. I don’t even mind that it’s called Chinese chicken salad and that, well…you know…salad, at least in the American tradition, is not really a thing for Chinese ;)
    I am excited to try this and hope it transports my tastebuds back to CA, seeing as Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes does not yet have a branch in Philadelphia. Thank you!

  13. Asmita says:

    We tried it this evening. No chicken so with fresh (uncooked tofu), and a few different greens. The dressing is a keeper! We loved it, including my nine and two year old.

  14. Karen says:

    Why did I find this salad recipe in October?!? Can’t wait until the weather gets warmer to try this chicken salad out for me and my Thursday swimming buddies. Guess I’ll find one of your cold-weather recipes to make. Am a native Denverite living in Brussels for ages. But visit from time to time so seeing your photos kinda fills the gap for me. Love your philosophy on ‘real butter’ and the photos and commentary, AND the dogs!

  15. jenyu says:

    Karen – I think if you can locate lettuce and limes, you should be able to make this salad in the cold months as well. But yes, there are plenty of cold weather recipes, too! Colorado misses you :) xo

  16. Jean says:

    Loved *all* your pictures, Jennifer! Read this amazing recipe on a 90 degree day and it brought back memories of when our family used to go to Sweet Tomatoes. Your recipe looked fantastic, so I had to try it. I agree the marinade is worth the step! AWESOME!

    Thank you for showing your Mise En Place photos and step by step preparation. The salad is better than we remember! Many Thanks!

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