Chinese chicken salad is a tasty, nutritious option and it makes a wonderful lunch. Perhaps you usually have ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing or Italian dressing over mixed leaves and you are getting tired of it.
Or it could be you are simply looking for new lunch inspiration. Whichever is the case, this Chinese chicken salad is very simple to prepare and the flavors work wonderfully together.
What is Chinese Chicken Salad?
You can use a julienne peeler to cut the vegetables into matchstick shapes, or if you don’t have one cut them by hand. We are using romaine and baby leaves in this dish too, along with grilled chicken, edamame beans, green onion and mandarin segments. The dressing is especially delicious, made with soy sauce, hot sauce, garlic, honey, mustard, rice wine vinegar, and herbs.
A teaspoon of hot sauce in your Chinese chicken salad dressing really kicks up the heat a notch. You can adjust this though if you would rather make a mild-tasting dressing. Serve this for lunch or have it as a light evening meal.
Feel free to adjust the ingredients if you don’t have some of them. You can use different lettuce, switch the vegetables around or use steamed chicken. Make it your own. This is the best Chinese chicken salad in terms of flavor, in my opinion!
Make Your Chinese Chicken Salad Unique
When I make it I usually just take a look in the vegetable drawer and pull out anything that needs to be used up. If you want to use just salad leaves, chicken, mandarin segments, noodles and the dressing though, that is also fine. You could even throw some chopped nuts in there.
This easy Chinese chicken salad is wide open to tweaking, so make it however you wish, using the ingredients you have available.Print
Chinese Chicken Salad
Chicken, mandarin segments, noodles and a tangy sauce make this one of the most delicious salad recipes. Try this for lunch, experiencing the magical Asian flavors in every single mouthful.
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 15 mins
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: Chinese
- 16 canned mandarin segments
- 1 chopped romaine lettuce
- 1 cup (150g) chopped grilled chicken
- 2 chopped green onions
- ½ cup (75g) cooked, shelled edamame beans
- ½ julienned red bell pepper
- 1½ cups (2 handfuls) mixed baby leaves
- ½ cup (25g) julienned carrots
- ¾ cup (115g) cooked ramen or chow mein noodles
- ½ cup (25g) julienned red cabbage
For the Dressing
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Black pepper, to taste
- Put the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to mix, or combine them in a food processor.
- Set the dressing to one side to let the flavors blend.
- Toss the leaves, romaine, cabbage, green onion, bell pepper, carrots and edamame together.
- Add in the dressing and toss a few times.
- Add in the noodles, chicken and mandarin segments.
- Toss the mixture once more, then divide the salad between 4 chilled plates and serve.
When I made this, I left out the julienned vegetables and added cilantro instead, which worked very nicely
The History of Chinese Chicken Salad
Chinese-style salads started to appear in the West during the 1930s, although modern recipes for Chinese chicken salad bear very little resemblance to the earlier ones. Raw salads were not eaten in Asia back then because raw vegetables were not safe to eat and the Chinese did not want to eat them like that anyway. Instead, traditional salads in China consisted of stir-fried or blanched vegetables and they were served hot or cold.
Most Chinese chicken salad recipes seem to come from the province of Szechuan. Bong bong or pong pong chicken was (and still is) especially popular and this is made by combining shredded chicken and bean sprouts with a garlic, red bell pepper and peanut sauce.
The Chinese chicken salad that you might be more familiar with, containing shredded iceberg lettuce, roast chicken strips, crispy fried noodles and a sesame oil dressing is believed to have originated in California rather than China! One oriental salad recipe dating back to 1923 contains diced figs, prunes, dates, pineapple, and nuts as well as “one cup of salad dressing” which does not actually sound particularly Asian, apart from the exotic fruit.
Chinese Salad Dressings
Most dressings were spiced mayonnaise or vinaigrette, although a few Chinese chicken salad recipes from the 1930s did call for soy sauce. Asian salad dressing started to become popular in the 1960s and they were promoted during the 1980s as being healthier than most other salad dressing recipes. You can imagine how different modern Chinese chicken salads are from their predecessors. Perhaps you have made your own Chinese chicken salad recipes already.
Add an Oriental Touch to Your Next Salad
A salad does not have to be all-Chinese or all-American. Why not combine more than one cuisine the next time you make a salad recipe? For instance, you can add some bean sprouts to a green salad to introduce some crunch, or swap your usual extra-virgin olive oil for half extra-virgin olive oil and half sesame oil. Add some Chinese spices to your chicken before making a chicken salad recipe, or swap the chicken for roast duck and add mandarin segments for an oriental touch.
You can even garnish your Chinese fusion salad with something fun like a carved carrot rose. Cut a one inch segment of carrot, and then use a short-blade carving knife to cut away chunks, to form petals. Keep your carved carrot rose in water until you are ready to serve it. It might take a bit of practice to get your rose looking like a rose, but it is fun trying! Other possible garnishes for an Asian salad include matchstick-cut cucumber, pineapple chunks, or roasted cashews.