Chef Chu’s Famous Chicken Salad
1 pound cooked chicken (about 2 cups)
For hot mustard paste:
For five-spice salt:
For Chef Chu’s garlic dipping sauce (optional):
Makes 12 Servings
Hand-shred the chicken meat by pulling it apart in strands along the grain, or julienne it with a knife. Set aside.
To deep-fry the rice sticks:
Heat the oil in a wok to 375 degrees. Add the rice sticks in small batches; deep-fry each batch a few seconds until puffy but still white. (Do not brown.) Remove, and drain on paper towels.
To make the hot mustard paste:
Stir the mustard powder and water together in a small bowl to make a paste. Stir in the sesame oil until the paste becomes smooth and shiny.
To prepare five-spice salt:
Combine the salt and five-spice powder in a small skillet. Place over moderate heat, shaking the pan to agitate the ingredients, for about 1 minute.
To prepare Chef Chu’s garlic dipping sauce:
Simmer the first 4 ingredients in a pan over low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat; stir in the vinegar. Let stand for 30 minutes. Serve the sauce warm or at room temperature. It will keep for 1 week, tightly covered in the refrigerator.
The secret to the success of this salad is how it is assembled. Place the lettuce, carrot and chopped Chinese parsley in a large salad bowl. Sprinkle five-spice salt evenly over the lettuce mixture. (See Chef’s Tips.) Toss well to distribute the salt evenly. Rub the hot mustard paste around the lower sides of the bowl. Add the chicken, peanuts and sesame seeds evenly over the lettuce, reserving some of the peanuts and sesame seeds for garnish. Toss well to distribute the hot mustard paste evenly throughout the salad. Adjust the taste. Add three-quarters of the rice sticks last; toss lightly to distribute evenly. Garnish with the 4 sprigs of Chinese parsley. Reserve the remaining rice sticks to garnish the individual servings.
Mound the salad on individual salad plates. Sprinkle the remaining rice sticks over the top. Sprinkle a few crushed peanuts and sesame seeds on top, and add a few sprinkles of Chef Chu’s garlic dipping sauce if you like.
CHEF’S TIPS: You may use leftover cooked chicken (fried, barbecued, rotisserie, steamed, smoked or pan-fried), or duck for a different flavor. Slightly warm the chicken or duck, or serve at room temperature, for richer flavor.
Add the crisp poultry skin, julienned, to add texture and flavor to the salad.
Five-spice salt is added to the lettuce first to help it distribute evenly. If added when the mustard paste is tossed in, it can stick to the mustard and have an unpleasant taste. Also, if added too early, it can wilt the lettuce.
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