14 September 2013

It's time again for The Salad Bar, hosted by Wendy of The Weekend Gourmet.  

This month's theme was Asian salads.  My first thought was to make that napa cabbage salad with the toasted ramen noodles in it.  I really like it and have never made it myself, so I wanted to try it.  But then I saw a great main dish salad at Menu Musings and it sounded and looked so amazing that I had to try it.  We occasionally do salads as our main dish for an easy dinner, but they are pretty boring, consisting of bagged salad mix, chopped deli ham, boiled eggs, and cheese.  I loved the idea of branching out with main dish salads.  This one has napa cabbage, carrots, green onions, sliced almonds, flavorful ginger grilled chicken and two different kinds of sesame seeds.

Ginger Sesame Grilled Chicken Salad

¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
¼ cup canola oil
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
¼ - ½ tsp red pepper flakes
½ tsp kosher salt
4 chicken breast cutlets
¼ cup white wine vinegar
honey, if desired
1 lb. Napa cabbage, very thinly sliced
2 carrots, grated
3 green onions, thinly sliced on the bias
⅔ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 tsp white sesame seeds
1 tsp black sesame seeds

Whisk together the soy sauce, ginger, canola oil, hoisin sauce, red pepper flakes, and salt to make the marinade/dressing.  Put the chicken breasts in a gallon sized zip-top bag and add ¼ cup of the marinade to the chicken.  Squeeze the air out of the bag so that the marinade comes into contact with the meat. Place bag in fridge and allow it to marinate at least 30 minutes, longer if you are able.  Refrigerate remaining marinade/dressing in a separate bowl.

Grill the chicken using either outdoors grill or indoors grill pan.  Cook them about 4 minutes per side or until completely cooked through.  Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow it to rest 15 minutes.  Then either slice them or cut them into chunks.

To the reserved marinade, whisk in the vinegar.  Taste it for seasoning, adding a bit of honey for sweetness if desired.  This is now the dressing.

In a large bowl, add the cabbage, carrots, green onions, cilantro, and almonds.  Add the chicken and toss together.  Add the dressing and the sesame seeds and toss again.

Makes 4 servings as an entrée; 6 servings as a side.

I used chicken breast cutlets, which means that I took two large chicken breasts and sliced them in half flat-wise, parallel to the counter.  This gives you four chicken breasts that are thinner and will soak up more of the marinade and will cook more evenly and faster. If I make this in the winter, I want to try cooking the chicken in the marinade in the slow cooker.  I think the flavor will infuse the chicken even better that way.  I will miss the grilled flavor on the chicken, but I think that it would still be great.

This salad is AMAZING!  The flavors are just incredible.  Ginger, hoisin sauce (which is basically an Asian barbecue sauce), and soy sauce combine to make the most flavorful dressing.  And I love how it works as the dressing and the marinade.  The original recipe called for sriracha, but that is not something I keep on hand, so I threw in some red pepper flakes instead.  I think I used 1/4 tsp and that was just perfect for us.  It gave it just a hint of heat, but not enough that my kids noticed.

The original recipe called for twice as much salt, which is fine for the marinade, but I found it to be too salty for the dressing.  I compensated by adding some honey (I forgot to write down how much. Maybe 1 tbsp?).  The honey may not be necessary since I reduced the amount of salt, so if you try this, taste it and see if you think it needs a little sweetness.

Those of you with eagle eyes might notice the lack of cilantro in the pic above.  I got it out of the fridge to add it to the salad and found it a brown gross mess, despite the fact that I bought it only a couple of days before. (I can't wait for Meijer to come to Kenosha because I haven't had the best luck with produce at the grocery stores here.)  I was very sad to leave it out as I love cilantro, but I wasn't going to run to the grocery store at the last minute just for one thing.

Even though this salad is perfect as it is, it would also be good without the chicken, either for vegetarians or if you wanted to use it as a side instead of a main dish.  You could probably cut the dressing ingredients in half if you are leaving out the chicken.

My husband is not a big salad eater, but he LOVED this salad.  Went on and on about how great it was.  We didn't eat it all at dinner that night, and I wasn't sure how well it would keep as leftovers, but I tried it anyway.  The next day the cabbage was a little softer, and the dressing was a little thinner, but it was still awesome.  My husband and I had no problem finishing off the leftovers for lunch the next day.

I am so glad that I joined this monthly salad challenge and that I discovered this awesome recipe.  I can't wait to increase my collection of main dish salads!

Check out all of the other great Asian salads below and come back next month to see what kind of Mexican salad I make.

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  1. This sounds great...can't wait to try it for dinner very soon! Love the use of ginger and sesame...

  2. I wish this was my dinner tonight...what a terrific salad, Lesa!

  3. Paula @ Vintage KitchenSeptember 14, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    So great that you made a dressing with hoisin, it tends to languish in my pantry. This salad is perfect for a quick meal Lesa!

  4. Dorothy at ShockinglyDeliciousSeptember 14, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    Adore how black sesame seeds dress up a salad. Great salad for the group today! (And I have the same bumper sticker from Penzeys on my fridge...the one you have at the bottom of the page.)

  5. Looks really good. Even though I don't eat chicken the idea of Chinese Chicken Salad always sounds tempting, I used to make a seitan version which I'll bet would also work really well in this recipe.

  6. Michelle Rushing HiltonNovember 4, 2013 at 6:13 PM

    This sounds yummy. I love the addition of sesame seeds.

  7. I made the same salad! Isn't it terrific? The flavors are great and yours looks lovely!

  8. I am in love with this salad. I can't wait to give it a try.