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Chinese Chicken Salad

Chinese Chicken Salad

June 30, 2023
Chinese Chicken Salad

Many people have attributed what we know today as “Chinese Chicken Salad” to chef Wolfgang Puck, who served a version of it at his Los Angeles restaurants in the 1980s. Some food historians claim that Chinese Chicken Salad goes back further to the 1960s, also in Los Angeles, but created at Madame Wu’s restaurant. It’s not easy to trace the origin of Chinese Chicken Salad, but one thing we know is that Chinese Chicken Salad as we know it today—a combination of shredded lettuce, cabbage, cooked chicken, tossed with a dressing made with ingredients that are common to Asian cuisines—might be based on traditional Chinese cold chicken dishes, but has evolved into something that is very California. So many versions of the salad exist, but the most important things are crisp, colorful California vegetables, fresh Mandarin oranges and a garlicky, gingery vinaigrette. Crisp white wines are a go-to for salad and a Temecula Sauvignon Blanc that has notes of citrus would be a fantastic pairing.

Yield: 4 Servings


For Salad:

  • 1 head Romaine lettuce, finely shredded
  • ¼ head napa cabbage, finely shredded (about 2 cups/480 mL)
  • ¼ head red cabbage, finely shredded (about 2 cups/480 mL)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 4 tangerines, peeled and sliced or separated into segments
  • 2 cups (480 mL) snap peas, finely sliced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • ½ cup (120 mL) sliced almonds
  • 2 cooked chicken breast halves, cooked and shredded
  • 1 cup (250 mL) Dressing below
  • optional: 1 tablespoon (15 mL) toasted sesame seeds for garnish

For Dressing:

  • 1 clove garlic, green stem removed and very finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon (2 mL) fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) grapeseed or other neutral flavored oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) sugar or honey
  • Water as needed for consistency/texture


  • Combine all ingredients for Chinese Chicken Salad in a large bowl. Drizzle with ½ cup of Dressing, toss, and continue adding dressing until all parts of the salad are coated.
  • To make dressing, combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until emulsified.
  • Store leftover undressed components of salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. Store dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week. Once the salad has been tossed with dressing, it will not keep.
  • Ingredients Notes and Substitutions:
  • You can substitute any other sturdy, crisp lettuce like iceberg, for the Romaine lettuce.
  • California Mandarin oranges are at their peak season from November to March, with a few varieties like Ojai pixie tangerines in season as late as May. Any small Mandarin orange or tangerine will work in this recipe.
  • To make this salad vegetarian, dice firm tofu, toss with a 1:1 mixture of soy sauce and sesame oil, sauté or roast and use in place of the cooked chicken.
  • To make this salad vegan, use the substitution for chicken as above and make the dressing with sugar, not honey.

Suggested Wines:

Thornton Winery ~ 2022 Sauvignon BlancThis wine has fruit and herbaceous notes with the additional floral and exotic aromatic characters of Musqué.

Oak Mountain Winery ~ 2022 Sauvignon Blanc Refreshing, forward, zesty flavors of lime, lemon, grapefruit, white peach, and passion fruit follow with bright acidity.

Falkner Winery ~ 2021 Sauvignon Blanc – This wine has delicious flavors of passion fruit, grapefruit, and key lime.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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