Chinese Chicken Salad

August 17, 2016
9 Ratings
Photo by Linda Xiao
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

While this salad might not have anything to do with authentic Chinese food, but it's deliciously refreshing—and simple and flexible enough that all the ingredients are accessible anywhere. You can easily throw it together with various leftovers, but it's also worthy of a special shopping trip.

In terms of the salad vegetable components, you need the cabbage and one or two other vegetables. Everything else is an optional add-on: Put them all in the salad or use a combination (I like cabbage, scallions, and carrots). —Sara Jenkins

What You'll Need
  • For the chicken:
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/2 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorn
  • 1 head garlic, sliced in half
  • One 1-inch piece ginger, crushed with the side of a knife
  • A few sprigs cilantro
  • 1 scallion, cut into 3 to 4 pieces
  • 2 large chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
  • For the salad and dressing:
  • 1 napa cabbage
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into matchstick-size slivers on a mandoline
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch moons
  • 2 scallions, both the white and green parts, cut thin on the bias
  • 1/3 cup matchstick-sized slivered radishes
  • 4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup whole cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup whole mint leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 cup whole Thai basil leaves (optional)
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup crispy fried shallots (optional)
  1. To the water, add the salt and all the aromatics and bring up to a boil. Drop the chicken breasts in, stir, and let just come back up to a simmer. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit, covered in the pot at room temperature, for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, pull the chicken out and set aside to cool. You can strain the water and save it for a tasty soup addition another day or you can throw it all out.
  2. Meanwhile, shred the napa cabbage by cutting the head in half and then slicing into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-wide ribbons. Toss with the carrots, sprouts, cucumbers, scallions, and radishes. Whisk the dressing ingredients—sesame oil, lime juice, and dark soy sauce—together and pour over the vegetables.
  3. Using your hands, shred the cooled chicken and add to the salad. If you want, you could let it all marinate together for about 15 minutes or so. When you are ready to serve it, add in the herb leaves and the sesame seeds and toss together. Serve garnished with the crispy fried shallots

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • BerryBaby
  • pamelalee
  • Sara Jenkins
    Sara Jenkins
  • Laura Green
    Laura Green

8 Reviews

Laura G. September 12, 2022
This was delicious, even though I had fewer of the veg than called for--just used the huge head of Napa cabbage from my CSA, plus the chicken. Perhaps because of no carrots, I did it could have used some sesame seeds or peanuts for extra crunch. Also had no dark soy sauce so added a splash of black vinegar.
boldnovice August 4, 2017
This was the BEST Chinese Chicken Salads I've ever made! It was so fresh, crunchy and flavorful! I loved the addition of the radishes and the simple dressing was absolutely perfect. This is going to be my go-to summer salad. Yum!!!
Lauren January 30, 2017
This is one of the best salads/dishes I have had! Very healthy and delicious. Sooooo flavorful from the aromatics cooked with the chicken and all those fresh herbs. I chopped up extra cabbage and cooked extra chicken to assemble another salad as needed.
BerryBaby August 21, 2016
Love any kind of chicken salad and this sounds wonderful! I know I will get comments (probably negative, that's ok), but I keep a couple of cans of chicken in the pantry for when I crave chicken salad and don't have any chicken breasts available. I've used the canned chicken for chicken salad sandwiches at parties and people rave about them, not knowing it is canned chicken. Works especially well on very hot days when you don't want to turn on the oven. Just be sure to rinse the chicken in the can, using the lid to squeeze out the water before using.
Amy H. August 19, 2016
Just checking on the aromatics for the broth. The recipe calls for both a head of garlic sliced in half (not a clove of garlic?), and a one-inch piece of garlic (not ginger?). Thanks!
Judy M. August 21, 2016
answer needed to the question head of garlic sliced in half (not a clove?)
one inch piece of garlic (not ginger ?)
Sara J. August 21, 2016
one inch piece of ginger
pamelalee August 18, 2016
I can’t wait to try this. I think you meant to write, “a 1 -inch piece ginger” rather than "garlic".