Greetings from Post-Prandial Languor, NY. Andrew Chandler came over for dinner tonight. (The delightful Yuri Tanaka was apparently home alphabetizing her 2002 receipts, or something. Her loss.) We made my mom’s semilegendary Chinese Chicken Salad. And, because there’s really no other way to eat mom’s semilegendary Chinese Chicken Salad, we each packed away about three pounds of the stuff. I am swimming in a haze of sesame oil goodness and nonsoluble dietary fiber. Oh, yes.
Mom’s Semilegendary Chinese Chicken Salad
—from Brooke Gieda, and who knows where she got it. Serves three to six, depending on how hungry you are.
Wash and dry well:
- 1 head Romaine lettuce
Put in a large bowl—it should have plenty of room left over. (Or put half of it in a bowl, and set the other half aside for seconds.)
- 1 full chicken breast, or 1 1/2 if you’re hungry
…until the meat is cooked all the way through. Shred the meat off the bone with two forks. Toss the chicken in with the lettuce and refrigerate.
Fry in vegetable oil:
- 1/2 pack of won ton skins (about 40?)
Won ton skins are generally found next to the tofu in your supermarket’s produce department. Fry them in a shallow frying pan, turning them over one time; they should go from their original floury beige to puffy, crisp, and golden brown in no more than 15 seconds. If you take much longer than that to cook them, they’ll end up pretty greasy, so be sure to get the oil hot enough.
As you have probably gathered, this bit requires vigilance. You can’t multitask while frying the won tons. The skins will keep frying for a moment even after you pull them from the oil, so err on the side of caution. You’ll probably need to ruin a few before you get the hang of it, but no worries: they’re cheap. As they come out of the pan (you’ll only be able to do 3 or 4 at a time), place them atop a sheet of paper towel on a plate to cool and drain.
Once you’ve done that, prepare the dressing:
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 1/2 cup salad oil (nothing fancy here; plain old vegetable oil)
- 6 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 teaspoons sugar
Put it all together, stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved, and set aside. It separates quickly, but don’t worry.
When you’re ready to serve, crush the won ton skins into the salad, and add:
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- 3 scallions, sliced into thin rings
…to the mix. Now re-emulsify the dressing and dress the salad. Toss vigorously—unless you haven’t been using a big enough bowl, in which case you’ll have to toss with extreme caution or risk covering the kitchen counter (and floor and walls) with salady goodness.
Serve to waiting family and/or friends. Be prepared for everybody to demand seconds and then fight over the good bits left at the bottom of the bowl.
Fall somewhere soft. Achieve state of bliss.