These days, you can’t go to a popular restaurant chain without them serving some version of a Chinese chicken salad on their menu. Island’s has their famous China Coast, and CPK serves theirs with those white stringy, crispy whisps called bean threads on top too (are you really supposed to eat those?). While they may be tasty, most of these are heavy-laden with mayo or too much oil in their dressing, so you might as well go and order a burger instead! Waaaay back in our college days in Los Angeles, my girlfriends and I would often go right up the street (we didn’t’ know how good we had it!) to California Chicken Café just to get their Chinese Chicken salad. If you’ve never been (unfortunately they are only in the Los Angeles area), I am so sorry. They have some other great food there too, but OM, something about their Chinese Chicken Salad just keeps you going back for more. The combination of the pasta, crushed peanuts, shredded carrots, and mandarin oranges add an extra twist to your typical recipe. It really is the dressing though, (which is tangy, sweet, and almost sauce-like), but it’s a top secret recipe, and unable to attain anywhere! (Isn’t there just one employee out there who can reveal it or could they at least bottle it up and sell it already? If not, I’d be happy if they just brought one down here in SD!) You always had to take the pita bread they serve alongside it and dip it into the leftovers- it is SO good! I totally want some now.
THANKFULLY, my other favorite Chinese Chicken salad place (they are both equally as good, just different), Feast from the East, DOES indeed bottle their dressing and it is readily available at Costco stores in L.A. county and a few other places too. A tiny hole-in-the-wall eatery where they are known for their famous Chinese Chicken salad and wings, Feast from the East’s salad dressing is lighter and has more of a sesame taste to it. Theirs is simple, just a mix of romaine lettuce, tons of chopped green onions, toasted sesame seeds, sliced almonds, shredded chicken, and crispy-fried wontons. It’s just perfect, so we make our own at home all of the time!
If you can, please get yourself some of THIS! (Since we have our very own supplier named Momo who has access, 😛 we always have an ample supply sitting in our pantry and never have to drive up to Smell-A to get some!)
Sometimes I mix the ingredients up a bit, but for eating at home on a regular basis, this is the recipe I pretty much follow. Like California Chicken Café, I add some whole-wheat pasta to make it more of a filling meal (no matter what though, a SALAD just isn’t EVER filling enough for my meat-loving husband)! If I don’t feel like doing the extra step of boiling pasta, (and this may sound strange?) I will put the tossed slaw on top of a scoop of hot brown rice (which we always have ready-to-h/eat in little portions from the freezer). The kids (and Papa too, actually) absolutely love this salad and gobble it up every time!
(Yes, they are eating lunch in their jammies…they love being in their “home-clothes!” :P)
Chinese Chicken Cabbage Slaw
I use the romaine whenever I make this for guests or for feeding adults, but found the lettuce leaves to be a bit difficult for our little ones to chew so I like to use shredded cabbage instead (plus, that extra bit of nutritional value never hurt anyone)! No cabbage for the children? Chop the lettuce into finer shreds. Yet another way to use that leftover cooked chicken and, pretty ‘Easy-Peasy’ too! This really works any way you like though- with as few or as many ingredients that you have in your fridge…but please, do try to fry up some crispy wonton crisps- they are the best part!
Crispy wonton strips:
I like to cut my strips rather largely because they are easier to fish out of the oil. They get all broken up when you toss the salad anyway! I also always fry the whole package of skins all at once. When stored in an airtight Ziplock bag, they last last for a while! (Unless your snackity husband likes to munch away on them like chips.)
- Wonton skins (sold in the refrigerator section)
- Oil for frying
Heat oil and fry strips for 30 seconds or so, flip over with chopsticks, fry till light brown. Mine usually turn out on the darker side…they fry quickly! Drain on paper towels (or on brown paper grocery bags like I do).
- Finely shredded cabbage (store-bought or shredded on grater at home)
- Romaine lettuce (if making salad)
- Green onions, chopped
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Sliced almonds
- Pre-cooked chicken, shredded
- Whole-wheat pasta noodles (I used fusilli)
- Optional items to mix in: finely shredded carrots, crushed peanuts, mandarin oranges…
Combine ingredients in a large bowl and get ready to top with delicious dressing!
(The easier way):
- Feast from the East bottled dressing!
Before Feast from the East sold their bottled dressing, I used to make my own. Here’s an idea of what I mixed together if you aren’t lucky enough to have your own special supplier. 😛
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tsp. sesame oil
- 2 Tbspn. sugar (taste and see)
- 1 ½ Tbspn. soy sauce (light is better)
- ¼ C. seasoned rice vinegar
- ¼ tsp. salt
- black pepper (I like just regular small-grained black pepper here vs. freshly-ground, but that’s just me!)
Make adjustments to your liking. Whisk everything together in small bowl or shake shake shake in a plastic container until it comes together.
Top salad with almonds, crispy wonton strips, and sesame seeds and toss together!