If you’ve been paying attention, you know that I’m not a big fan of lettuce in salads. Lettuce doesn’t taste very good, it’s not especially nutrient dense, and it has a tendency to leave you hungry after a few hours. That’s why I love salads like this one.
With tender chicken, nutty sesame seeds, sun-ripened tomatoes and crunchy cucumbers, it’s an easy make-ahead meal that will fill you up without slowing you down. Packed with protein, fiber, minerals and vitamins, it’s as colorful as it is rich in nutrients.
By steaming the chicken you not only retain more flavor, it keeps the chicken nice and moist. The key to steaming chicken is that you want cook it gently at a relatively low temperature. Too hot and you may as well be boiling it.
Because the salad is served cold, you can steam the chicken late at night, when the sun isn’t bearing down on your home. Then, store it in the fridge whole until you’re ready to use it. The salad can be put together up to a day in advance, but keep in mind that the scallions and cilantro will wilt once dressed.
Shredded Chicken and Sesame Salad
- 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine (optional)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 large chicken breast (360 grams / 12.7 ounces)
- 2 Japanese or Lebanese cucumbers (200 grams / 7 ounces)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 small tomatoes (200 grams / 7 ounces), cut into 8 wedges
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- small handful of cilantro, leaves plucked from stems
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon raw sugar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Add 1” of water in the bottom of a steamer along with the shaoxing wine, insert the steamer rack, cover and bring up the water up to a boil.
- Take the chicken out of the refrigerator and rub it with ½ teaspoon of salt. Let this sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
- Place the chicken breast on your steamer rack, cover and turn down the heat so there’s still steam escaping from under the lid, but it’s not at a full boil. Steam until the chicken registers 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer at its thickest part (about 12-17 minutes). Remove the chicken from the steamer and wrap it in foil, allowing it to cool completely.
- Cut the ends off the cucumber, quarter and cut into 2-inch long sticks. Place them in a bowl and rub them with ½ teaspoon of salt. Let them sit while the chicken cooks and cools.
- To make the dressing, grind the sesame seeds with a mortar and pestle or in a clean spice grinder. Add the ground sesame seeds to a bowl with the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and salt.
- When the chicken is cool, shred it into a bowl.
- Squeeze the cucumber to get rid of the extra liquid and then add them to the bowl with the chicken along with the tomatoes, scallions, and cilantro.
- Cover with the dressing and toss gently to coat evenly. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Yield: 2 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.