I can remember many years ago when the Chinese Chicken Salad suddenly showed up on the menus of restaurants like Houlihan’s and Applebee’s. Have you ever looked at the calorie count of those salads? According to Houlihan’s nutritional information, their Asian Chop Chop salad has 999 calories and 51 grams of fat. The Mandarin Chicken Salad has 1015 calories and 39 grams of fat. Applebee’s has an Oriental Grilled Chicken salad which, according to myfitnesspal.com nutrition facts, has 1290 calories and 98 grams of fat. Just when you think you’re making healthy choices… you might be better off just ordering the burger and fries. I say just stay home and make this simple healthy salad and avoid these calorie laden options.
When this dinner shows up on our table, everyone’s surprisingly happy. There is so much going on in this salad, you don’t even need to serve bread on the side. The salad alone is enough to fill everyone up. They are exhausted from all the crunching of the vegetables. Feel free to get creative with the veggies you use. We love this with lots of different textures and colors. The crunch of the water chestnuts and bean sprouts with the juicy chicken is really delicious.
INGREDIENTS FOR MARINADE/DRESSING (enough to marinate 3 large boneless chicken breasts, plus dressing for the salad, serves about 4)
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1 tsp hot chili oil
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
- Pinch red pepper flakes
Place all the ingredients in a small container, put on the lid and shake like crazy. You can refrigerate the dressing until you are ready to use it.
TO MARINATE THE CHICKEN
- 3 large boneless chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness
- About 1/3 of the dressing from above
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
Gently flatten the chicken breasts between sheets of plastic wrap, using a meat mallet, until they are an even thickness. This will help them to grill evenly. You just want to even out the thickness, not make them thin. Place in a Ziploc bag or bowl. Pour over about 1/3 the dressing, plus an additional 2 tbsp soy sauce. Combine well to make sure the chicken is evenly coated. Refrigerate and allow to marinate for about 3-4 hours. Grill the chicken until cooked through.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE SALAD
I have not included quantities of the veggies below. Use as much or as little of each to build the salad combination you like best.
- Red leaf lettuce cut into ribbons
- Nappa cabbage, sliced
- Red cabbage, sliced
- Thinly sliced red onion
- Canned mandarin oranges, drained
- Fresh mung bean sprouts
- Red bell pepper, sliced in to match sticks
- Shredded carrots
- Cucumber, sliced
- Fresh snow peas (blanched but still crunchy)
- Fresh snap peas (blanched but still crunchy)
- Canned, sliced water chestnuts, drained
- Grilled chicken breasts
Toss together all the vegetables and grilled chicken in a big salad bowl. Pour over the dressing, toss to combine and serve.