This recipe has become a classic in our family. This is one of those ones that I've become spoiled to. I don't even order it when we go to a restaurant because I know I'll be disappointed. In my opinion nobody can make it like my husband. His Chinese Chicken Salad is the best.
Admittedly the original recipe came out of an old book that looks like it was self-published. It's called "Your Favorite Recipes Old And New" by Lily Chinn, copyright 1970. Here's the recipe with our changes.
The ingredients are: 2 large chicken breasts, with skin and bone-in; soy sauce; sherry; vegetable oil; water; cilantro; hoisin sauce; fresh ginger root; dry mustard; sesame seed; rice stick (mai fun noodles); green onions; iceberg lettuce; salt to taste (at the end).
First the chicken breasts need to be marinated. To make the marinade mix together 2 T soy sauce, 2 T sherry, 2 T oil, 2 T water, 4 T rough chopped cilantro, 1 T hoisin sauce, 1 T grated ginger root, and 1 T dry mustard.
The best way to grate the ginger root is with this handy dandy ginger root grater. It's made out of ceramic and doesn't cost much. It does a superb job of breaking down the ginger to a mushy pulp, just how we want it. (HINT: keep fresh ginger root wrapped in plastic in freezer until ready to use.)
Now put the chicken breasts in the marinade, making sure to coat all surfaces. Let them soak up all that yummy flavor for about four hours, or better yet, overnight.
After marinating it's time to cook the chicken. Bake it in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. Don't be alarmed by the dark color: it's not burned. That comes from the soy sauce and hoisin sauce. Your kitchen will be smelling scrumptious!
With the chicken in the oven it's time to toast the sesame seeds. Put about half the jar, or approximately 1/4 cup sesame seeds in a dry pan. As the pan heats up over medium heat you'll need to constantly stir until the seeds turn a nice toasted brown color. Be careful at this point because they can burn easily if you aren't paying attention.
While the chicken is cooling, fill a frying pan with about 1 1/2 inches oil. Start heating it up. It needs to get really hot.
Now while the chicken is still cooling, the sesame seeds are off the heat, and the oil is heating it's time to start building the salad. Chop one large or two small heads of lettuce into bite size pieces and place into a very large bowl (to make mixing at the end easier). Slice 3-4 green onions and add to the lettuce. Add a good 1/4 C (or more) cilantro leaves. If you don't want to pick the leaves off the stems like my husband did here, just rough chop to get desired amount.
The chicken should be cool enough to handle now, so carefully remove meat from the bone and chop into bite size pieces. Add to the bowl. Pour the toasted sesame seeds on top. Now sprinkle another T dry mustard over the top. This is where I like to add the hot variety.
Here's what it should look like:
At this point it is recommended to do your first stir. After mixing sprinkle with a little salt and stir again. Now check if the oil is hot enough. To do that take a piece of rice stick and CAREFULLY put one end in the oil. If it puffs up right away, the oil is ready.
You may want to call in the kids for this part. Not for them to do but to watch. Since this oil is EXTREMELY HOT you must use EXTREME CAUTION! Carefully place 1/2 package of rice stick in the oil. It should start puffing up immediately. This only takes a few seconds. Then carefully turn to cook the other side for a few seconds. Remove to paper towels. Remember to turn the oil heat off.
Crumble the rice stick into the salad bowl.
Carefully spoon about 1/4 cup of the hot oil over the mixture.
Now is when the really big bowl comes in handy. Mix everything together, making sure the oil coats all the lettuce. Salt to taste. Let it sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to develop, then dig in. I could eat this every day!
CHINESE CHICKEN SALAD
Marinate 2 large chicken breasts four hours or overnight in:
2 T soy sauce
2 T sherry
2 T vegetable oil
2 T water
4 T rough chopped cilantro
1 T hoisin sauce
1 T grated ginger root
1 T dry mustard
Bake chicken in 350 degree oven about one hour. Bone chicken and chop into bite sized pieces.
In a large bowl place:
1 large or 2 small heads chopped iceberg lettuce
3 - 4 sliced green onions
1/4 - 1/2 C chopped cilantro
1/4 C toasted sesame seeds
1 T dry mustard
chopped chicken pieces
2 C fried rice stick (mai fun)
1/4 C hot rice stick oil
Mix everything together and salt to taste.