Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Asian Chicken Salad

Last week we got takeout from one of my favorite chains, Pei Wei (the faster, more affordable concept by P.F. Chang's).  It's one of those places that even though most of the menu items are tempting to me, I always order the same thing because I like it so well (in case you were wondering, I love the Japanese Teriyaki Tofu and Vegetables over Brown Rice).  Anyway, even though I stuck to my old standby, I kept thinking how delicious an Asian style chicken salad sounded.  Finally, tonight (and a perfect evening for grilling at that), my craving was satisfied.  This may look like it has a lot of components, but it's really simple.  And, if you want to use some short cuts, just substitute your favorite Asian style bottled dressing and you have my permission to use store bought crispy wonton strips (or those crunchy chow mein noodles).  

Ginger Soy Dressing/Marinade:
makes about 1/2 cup (double the recipe if using as marinade)
2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger (from about 1/2" piece)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons orange juice (or syrup/juice from mandarin oranges can or can sub 1-2 teaspoons honey)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or another neutral flavored oil--canola or peanut)

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 batch Ginger Soy Dressing recipe (1/2 cup) or favorite bottled Asian-style salad dressing
cooking spray

Crispy Wonton Strips:
8 wonton wrappers/skins (usually found in refrigerated produce section) cut into about 1/2" strips
vegetable oil

Salad Fixings:
4 cups shredded lettuce (I used Romaine but iceberg would be appropriate too)
4 cups shredded napa cabbage (has a curlier leaf than traditional green cabbage and found in Asian cuisine)
1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 cup carrot, cut into thin matchsticks or roughly shredded
1 small can mandarin orange segments (I like the kind in juice rather than syrup), drained
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion (also known as scallions)
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds (optional)

Prepare dressing/marinade recipe by whisking together all ingredients in a small bowl.  Whisk once more before using/serving.  Marinate chicken breasts in dressing for at least 30 minutes. Remove from marinade and discard remaining marinade.  Spray chicken with cooking spray and grill over medium- high heat, about 6 minutes per side, or chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees and juices are clear.  Remove from grill, tent with foil and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.  Slice into thin strips to serve over salad.

Preprare wonton strips.  Pour enough vegetable oil into the bottom of a heavy skillet to cover about 1/2" deep.  Heat oil over medium high heat.  Once hot (you can test by adding one wonton strip.  If it sizzles, it's hot enough.  Fry wonton strips in oil until golden, turning halfway through.  The whole process should take about 1 minute.  Remove crispy wonton strips and let drain on a layer of paper towels. 

To serve: In one large bowl (or individual bowls), layer lettuce, cabbage, bell pepper, carrot, orange segments and green onion.  Top with sliced grilled chicken and drizzle with dressing.  Garnish with wonton strips, almonds, if using and additional green onion, if desired.

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