Sunday, June 11, 2006

Bang! Bang! Chicken Salad

Bang! Bang! Chicken Salad is a close cousin of Dan Dan Noodles, a dish named for the sound of Chinese street vendors banging their metal pots to attract attention to themselves and sell their noodle dishes. If you like the Ameri-Thai combination of peanuts and chilis as well as the summer flavor of fresh mint and cilantro, you will love this recipe.

I have to admit, this is a derivative of a fine recipe by Nigella Lawson from her cookbook, FEAST: Food to Celebrate Life. If you don't own it, buy it. She's hip, she's smart, she's beautiful and she inherently understands the connection between food, love and sensuality. Although I've never heard her say anything about sex, some of her photos are downright erotic.

On to the recipe:

Bang! Bang! Salad Dressing

2 tsp. peanut oil
3 tbs. smooth peanut butter
2 tbs. Chinese chili bean sauce*
1 tbs. superfine sugar
1 tbs. light soy sauce**
1 1/2 tbs. Chinese black vinegar***
2 tbs. water

*A blend of chili and fermented broad beans, a.k.a Toban Djan, not likely to be available at your local mega-grocery chain. Get to an Asian grocery store. Look at the labels carefully, it's easy to accidentally pick up "bean sauce", which does not taste the same.
** I prefer to use light soy sauce. It contains less sodium than regular soy sauce. You will get the sodium from other ingredients anyway...
***Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce is an OK substitute.

For the salad:
3 c. cold shredded chicken (About 4-5 half breasts)
1 medium head of iceberg lettuce (6 cups finely shredded)
1/2 c. fresh cilantro (chopped)
1/2 c. fresh mint (chopped)
4 oz. cucumber
4 scallions
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

To make the dressing: heat the oil in a small saucepan to release the peanut flavor. Let it cool and pour it into a medium sized bowl. While it is cooling, put the saucepan back on a low temperature burner, with whatever peanut oil remains, and add the sesames to toast them to a golden brown color. Cool the toasted sesames on a plate and store in an airtight container or plastic bag. Now that the oil is cool, you can add all of the other dressing ingredients (not the toasted sesames!) and stir or whisk it until it is smooth. Refrigerate. Will still be good for at least a week.

Bake the chicken breasts until they are full cooked. Let them cool. Then use the back of a fork to shred them. Toss in a small bowl with 4-5 tbs. of the Bang! Bang! dressing and store until ready to serve the salad.

Arrange the shredded lettuce over the base of a large flat plate, or in a deep and wide salad bowl. Sprinkle chopped cilantro and mint everywhere. Drip 4-5 tablespoons of the Bang! Bang! dressing over the lettuce and herbs. Place the shredded chicken mix as a row up the center of the lettuce and herb mix. Peel, seed and chop up the cucumber into matchstick sized pieces. Prepare the scallions by removing most of the bland green part and the roots at the white end. Then slice each scallion in half, the long way, and slice again and again until you have shreds of white scallion. Spread scallions and cucumbers over the salad. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the salad and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

...Bang! Bang! It's ready to present to your family or guests. Show everyone your glorious creation, toss and serve.

“Glass City Gourmet” is a chronicle of one woman's attempt to cook, eat, diet and entertain with both flair and whimsy while based in Toledo, Ohio. I encourage you to read on as the "Glass City Gourmet" attempts grand recipes, samples locally owned restaurants, visits indigenous markets and humbly pursues her quest to be formally recognized as the official "Glass City Gourmet".

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