Chinese chicken salad with sesame-ginger dressing
Makes 4 servings
Toasting sesame seeds gives them a nutty flavor and crunchy texture. To toast the seeds, put them in a dry skillet over medium-high heat for about 3 to 5 minutes. Toss constantly and watch closely; remove the seeds from the pan when they are lightly browned.
The chicken can be added to this salad while warm. Or, if you prefer, grill the chicken in advance and serve chilled atop the greens.
For the dressing
2/3 cup white rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons dark (Asian) sesame oil
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Dash of ground white pepper
For the chicken and vegetables
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound boneless skinless split chicken breasts
Dash of freshly ground pepper
24 Chinese pea pods, stems and strings removed
6 cups shredded Chinese cabbage (see Tip)
4 ribs bok choy, coarsely chopped (also shred green tops)
3 scallions (both green and white parts), coarsely chopped
1 can (8 ounces) Mandarin orange segments, drained
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Prepare the grill. Position the grill rack about 6 inches above the coals.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, making certain the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
Brush one side of each chicken breast with the canola oil. Place the chicken, oiled-side down, on the grill rack over glowing coals; grill for about 5 minutes. Brush the top surfaces with oil; turn and grill for about 5 more minutes or until the chicken is lightly browned and thoroughly cooked.
Transfer the chicken to a plate, sprinkle with pepper, and cover to keep warm. (If you prefer, refrigerate the chicken, depending upon your serving preference.)
Meanwhile, put the pea pods in a wire mesh strainer; blanch by immersing them for about 30 seconds in the saucepan of boiling water. Rinse with cold running water; drain well.
Toss together the pea pods, cabbage, bok choy, and scallions in a large bowl. Whisk the dressing; add ½ cup to the salad mixture and toss again.
Spread the salad mixture on 4 individual serving plates. Slice the chicken into ½-inch strips; arrange atop the greens and surround with the orange segments. Whisk the remaining dressing; drizzle over the salads. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.