Monday, July 8, 2013

Chicken Ramen Salad with Napa Cabbage


I've made some more changes on the blog hoping to create a more straightforward and simple look. I tried my hand at some coding as well, so if anyone is having issues with reading the text or viewing the photos, please let me know.

Anyway, in high school a very close friend of mine would regularly request Chinese Chicken Salad for her birthday dinner. It was a hit with her family, and I always enjoyed it. Yet as an adult, it is a salad that I never think to make. I wouldn't normally have ramen on hand, and I tend to lean toward Italian-inspired salads.

Kaly, one of the two farmers at Harlequin and my close friend's older sister, mentioned that she had made a version of Chinese Chicken Salad recently using some of the farm's napa cabbage. I thought I'd give it a whirl since this week's CSA share will include plenty of Asian vegetables perfect for such a salad including napa cabbage, carrots and green onions. And anyway, buying the Maruchan ramen was very nostalgic for me. 



The first time I toasted the ramen, I didn't let the pieces brown sufficiently. A well-toasted ramen will make all the difference in this salad. Make sure to add the sesame seeds last, as they brown very quickly. 


If you are hoping to make a vegetarian dish, the chicken can easily be omitted or replaced with baked or fried tofu.  I might try frying tofu with ginger the next time I make it.


Typical Chinese Chicken Salad dressings are very sweet. I found some recipes that called for over 1/4 cup of sugar! I decided to add a few teaspoons of honey to brighten the dressing, but I think that the honey could be omitted entirely if desired.


Chicken Ramen Salad with Napa Cabbage
adapted from Just a Pinch

makes 6 to 8 servings 

about 3/4 of a napa cabbage, larger leaves removed and thinly sliced, about 6 cups
1 medium carrot, shredded
2 or 3 green onions, chopped
1/4 c finely chopped cilantro
2 c cooked and shredded chicken (see below)
ramen noodles with almonds and sesame (see below)
dressing (see below)

Chicken

1 large chicken breast, about .75 lb
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
1/2 tsp salt

Ramen

1 3-oz package ramen noodles, discarding seasoning packet
1/3 c slivered or chopped almonds
1 heaping Tbsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil

Dressing

1/3 c olive oil
1/4 c seasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp honey (or sugar)
1 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp freshly grated ginger

For chicken: Place chicken breast, ginger slices and salt in a medium saucepan. Fill with water to completely immerse chicken. Heat water to boil. Lower heat to medium-low, cover, and poach for 10 to 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center. 

Remove chicken breast from pot. Discard ginger. Let cool. Shred with two forks. Refrigerate until needed.

For ramen: Break up ramen into smaller pieces. Heat oil on medium in a cast iron or frying pan. Add ramen and toast, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Add almonds and toast until just brown, about 2 minutes. Add sesame seeds and stir to toast, about 1 minute, being careful not to burn seeds. Remove from heat and set aside. 

For dressing: In a bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together all ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

For salad: In a large salad bowl, toss together cabbage, carrots, green onions and cilantro. Add chicken and ramen with nuts and seeds. Toss with salad dressing and serve. 



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