Foodie Friday: Chinese Chicken Salad

Chinese chicken salad: self-evident description, and about as authentic as a fortune cookie

Chinese chicken saladIt’s not real Chinese food, but what can I say? I’m an Americanized girl. I have fond memories of the salad. Here are my top three happy associations with it:

1) High school. One of the first times I went “out” to a restaurant. I remember splitting this dish and some tasty walnut shrimp with my best friend from high school.

2) UCLA friends. Again, I found myself sharing a platter–with college peers. We loved the Rascals’ version, with its tangy but sweet dressing, and the extra crispy noodles and almond slivers.

3) Home cooking. My mom worked very long hours at our family restaurant sometimes. One of my favorite  (and hopefully, easy for her to make) dishes came from a culmination of extra food from the buffet table. She would toss together lettuce, pickled cucumbers & carrots, and fried chicken strips.

Here’s a version of what my mom made, minus the sour veggies:

Lettuce, one head (I like green-leaf)
Chicken, whole (try roasted from the local grocer’s, or fried if you’d like)
4 carrots
4 cucumbers
Rice sticks (maifun)
Plum sauce

1. Wash lettuce. Tear into pieces.
2. Cut chicken into smaller portions.
3. Peel and grate carrots.
4. Slice cucumbers into circles or rectangular sections. (Sometimes I like to make a zebra effect by peeling the cucumber in an alternate stripe pattern.)
5. Fry rice sticks in hot oil. (They should puff up.)
6. Toss together lettuce, carrots, and cucumbers.
7. Add in plum sauce for an easy dressing. Mix together.
8. Layer fried rice sticks on top (keep these separate to maintain their crunchiness).

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  1. I like it when you write that it is not really Chinese food but still like it because of the associated memories. Your parents must have worked hard in the family restaurant and this is so nice of you to appreciate your mom’s effort to bring fresh food to the table.
    My mom also made such dishes. The French toast being one of my favorite childhood’s treats. She would use the old bread and if my dad was away, it would be our dinner with all kinds of jams and a little bit of powdered sugar. She also made hachis Parmentier with day-old potato puree, adding ground meat and all sorts of things I had no idea about. What I do remember is how good these dishes made with leftovers were.

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      Mmm, that sounds good. French toast for dinner. (I recently had a version using brioche, which was delicious!) I love how inventive your family was–I’ll have to look up the hachis Parmentier recipe.

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