January 9, 2019 10:28:42 AM
With its juicy oranges, tender chicken and a crunchy topping, Chinese chicken salad offers an enticing variety of tastes and textures. But many versions seem to have lost their way, weighted down with gloppy sauces, lackluster chicken, sugary canned orange segments and watery greens.
We saw the potential to recast this salad in a healthier role by incorporating wholesome ingredients. To start, we traded canned oranges for fresh oranges rich in vitamin C and fiber. We cut out segments to top our salad and used the remaining juice as the basis for a bright vinaigrette, which we enlivened with 3 tablespoons of fresh ginger, a pop of Asian chile-garlic sauce, and just a touch of honey for sweetness.
We used some of this flavorful liquid to simmer our chicken breasts, then we shredded the meat and returned it to the pan to soak up the rich, bright flavors. For the salad's base, we replaced the usual lettuce with nutrient-packed napa cabbage, red bell peppers, cilantro, and scallions. For crunch, we passed on sodium-laden fried chow mein noodles and added a much healthier handful of unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts. You can substitute one clove of minced garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper for the Asian chili-garlic sauce.
CHINESE CHICKEN SALAD
Start to finish: 1 hour
1/3 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon Asian chile-garlic sauce
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons expeller-pressed canola oil
2 teaspoons expeller-pressed toasted sesame oil
1 pound organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of all visible fat
1 small head napa cabbage, cored and sliced thin
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 2-inch-long matchsticks
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
6 scallions, sliced thin
1/2 cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts, chopped
Nutrition information per serving: 326 calories; 150 calories from fat; 17 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 55 mg cholesterol; 383 mg sodium; 21 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 14 g sugar; 23 g protein.