Crispy Chicken Salad à la Wondee Siam

April 16, 2021
5 Ratings
Photo by Rick Andrew Martinez
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

While I love being here in Mazatlán, one of the things I really miss about New York is the access to global cuisines, and especially East Asian foods, like Thai, Chinese, and Vietnamese cuisines. I love those flavors so much, not least because they usually involve sweet-heat combinations, with an incredible brightness that often comes from lime juice, orange juice, or another kind of citrus.

Particularly, I'm longing for a dish from this restaurant in Hell's Kitchen called Wondee Siam. They make this crispy duck salad that I've been eating for probably about 15 years. It's this duck that's been fried—almost like chicharrón—paired with pineapple, onions, Thai chiles, lime juice, and fish sauce. I've been missing the dish so much that I've recreated it here.

The sweet and heat come from a few elements of this dish: While the pineapple adds quite a bit of sweetness, if your pineapples aren't quite as sweet as the kind I find here in Mexico, some added palm sugar will help dial up that flavor. As for the heat, I use green chiles de árbol here, which have a very spicy and almost grassy flavor. We also get some heat from red onion (soaked in salted water to pull out some of the raw, harsh flavor), and a bit of tartness from Granny Smith apple.

As for the protein itself, though the original dish from Wondee Siam calls for duck, I wasn't able to find that in Mazatlán and used a rotisserie chicken instead. (I grilled myself, but you can buy a prepared rotisserie chicken from the store.) We'll shred the tender meat and toss it with our bright and fresh salad dressing. And to get that crispiness that I love so much about Wondee Siam's version, we'll pan-fry the chicken skin to sprinkle over the top of everything. —Rick Martinez

What You'll Need
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Crispy Chicken Salad à la Wondee Siam
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup rendered lard
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts
  • 1/2 rotisserie chicken, breast meat removed from bones, shredded, skin saved
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • 1 to 2 fresh Thai chiles or chiles de árbol, finely chopped; or 1 to 2 teaspoons sambal oelek
  • 2 teaspoons palm sugar or light brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/4 large pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup (packed) cilantro leaves with tender stems
  • Lettuce leaves and cooked long-grain white rice, for serving
  1. Toss onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and 2 cups water in a medium bowl. Let sit at room temperature until ready to serve. Whisk fish sauce, lime juice, lime zest and chiles in a liquid measuring cup until completely combined. If using an under-ripe or not-so-sweet pineapple, whisk 1 teaspoon sugar into fish sauce dressing to balance the lime; taste and add more if desired. Set aside until ready to serve.
  2. Heat a large heavy skillet over high until hot, about 2 minutes. Add cashews and peanuts and cook, tossing constantly, until very fragrant and toasted in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium heatproof bowl.
  3. Add lard in the same heavy skillet over high and cook chicken, undisturbed, until golden brown on 1 side, about 3 minutes. Carefully turn and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to a paper towel lined sheet tray. Reduce to medium-high and cook chicken skins, turning occasionally, until deep golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to sheet tray with chicken.
  4. Drain onion; rinse and drain again. Toss apple, pineapple, scallion, cilantro, onion, dressing, peanuts, cashews and chicken together in a large bowl and toss until evenly distributed and completely coated; season with salt if necessary. Line plates with lettuce leaves, top with salad and sprinkle with crispy chicken skin. Serve with rice alongside.

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    Mary Catherine Tee
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  • rachelw
  • carswell
Rick Martinez

Recipe by: Rick Martinez

Rick Martinez is currently living his dream—cooking, eating and enjoying the Mexican Pacific coast in Mazatlán. He is finishing his first cookbook, Under the Papaya Tree, food from the seven regions of Mexico and loved traveling the country so much, he decided to buy a house on the beach. He is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit, New York Times and hosts live, weekly cooking classes for Food Network Kitchens. Earlier this year, he was nominated for a James Beard Award for “How to win the Cookie Swap” in Bon Appétit’s holiday issue.

6 Reviews

rachelw April 17, 2021
This recipe is so, so good! Relatively easy to make and absolutely delicious. I’ve already made it twice. Love it!
carswell March 7, 2021
I didn’t fry the chicken or the skin (only had roasted chicken breasts) and didn’t have an apple so used some mango slices I had in the fridge - and this was still fantastic.

To be honest I think the dressing makes it and substitutions don’t hurt at all.
Mary C. December 8, 2020
So happy to see Rick in front of the camera and behind some recipes at Food52!

This salad was killer. I couple things to note: the ingredient list didn't include scallions, but the instructions did. I added 2 chopped scallions in the mix. Also, careful, careful. The chicken skins burn quickly fried in lard over med-high heat. When I say burn, I mean past the point of crispy slightly-charred edges to bitter carbon bombs.

Thanks for sharing this with us Rick, and for bringing a little light in food form!
angelitakarmalita November 30, 2020
Oh Rick... I literally long to be stranded w/you in Mazatlan.... I’m a decent cook and would sous for you any day... I hope you are well, and even though this isn’t a Mexican “dish”, I’m totally making this! Be well dear Rick.
ssmd1949 November 30, 2020
I can't wait to make that salad! It looks wonderful!!!!
Lizzy November 28, 2020
Made this salad tonight after feeling burned out on thanksgiving leftovers. This was such a delicious bright change for my palate. I forgot the apple but don’t think it was missed. Making chicken skin chicharrones was a revelation. Only change I made was adding a bit of olive oil to the dressing. Thanks Rick!