Many chicken salad recipes feature almonds, which are so expensive that I rarely buy them. However, peanuts are very reasonably priced at Asian markets. Stock them in your pantry, as they're often a good substitute for more expensive nuts.
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/2 cup rice vinegar or 1/3 cup white vinegar
2 ramen noodle seasoning packets (reserved from ramen noodle packages used in salad)
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups cubed chicken breasts or thighs
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 head Napa cabbage, cut into very thin slivers
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted in a dry skillet over medium heat
Three 3-ounce packages oriental- or chicken-flavored ramen noodles, broken
How to Make It
In a 2-cup measuring cup, whisk together first 6 marinade ingredients. In a medium-size bowl, toss chicken with 1/4 cup marinade and marinate for 1 hour.
Heat sesame oil in a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, without stirring, until nicely browned on one side, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir and cook until chicken is no longer pink in the center, 5 to 8 more minutes. (If you're short on time, cook chicken immediately after tossing it with marinade.)
Transfer cooked chicken to a large bowl, and add remaining salad ingredients; toss to combine. Pour remaining marinade over salad and toss until everything is well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours, or overnight, to let the flavors develop.
I really like the flavor of this dressing and marinade. I would recommend adding the dressing about 5 hours minimum before dinnertime to let the Ramen soften a little. I only used a half head of cabbage and I feel like a whole head would be way too much.
YUMMY! Next time I'll probably only add one package of ramen noodles to the salad, they were a little overwhelming. The flavors definitely develop the longer it sits, but it also makes the salad less crispy. If you would like it to be crispier, put the dressing on right before you serve it instead of letting it sit.
Also, for the love of salmonella, don't marinate your chicken in the entire thing of dressing! Follow the recipe, and marinate the chicken in a separate dish with a 1/4 cup of dressing.
This salad would be outstanding except for a very dangerous step. It says to pour remaining marinade over the salad. It has had raw chicken in it and must be boiled before using like that. otherwise I would give it a 5.
I really enjoy this recipe for its simplicity. I do add a can of sliced water chestnuts and sliced lichynuts if available.This adds some crunch to the salad.It seems no matter how much I make there is never enough.I have added the thin Chinese sugar peas as well,just another variation.sometimes I have juliened red pepper and used 2 tablespoons of spicey oyster sauce in the dressing,also juliened duck breast. This is a great classic recipe.