HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


"Chinese" Chicken Salad

I make this salad regularly for dinner and always wondered how it came to be. In our Cookbooks of the Month from Fuchsia Dunlop, there is no recipe or mention of this. I have always thought that it was invented in the U.S. by an enterprising chef who decided to take an American salad and make it "Chinese".

Mine consists of chopped iceburg lettuce, lots of chopped scallions, chunks of soy sauce chicken purchased from my local Chinese bbq place, and toasted sesame seeds. This is mixed with a big bowlful of deep-fried rice sticks and tossed with a dressing made of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and chopped red candied ginger.

I'm making it tonight and suddenly wondered where it came from.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. It's a (great, IMO) California creation. I've never found it anywhere else.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pikawicca

      My college roommate (who was from Beverly Hills) introduced me to Chinese chicken salad (this was over *yikes* 20 years ago).

      She LOVED the one at Chin Chin, and although I have no idea if it started here, the menu says "our famouse chinese chicken salad".


    2. There are some who say it was Cecelia Chiang, founder of The Mandarin restaurant around 1961 in San Francisco who originated the dish to appeal to Western customers although her cuisine was Northern Chinese. Wickipedia talks about 1980's and Wolfgang Puck but it way predates him.

      2 Replies
      1. re: torty

        Yeah, I think I was making it in the mid-70s.

        1. re: torty

          In Cecelia Chiang's cookbook "The Seventh Daughter", she offers her recipe and describes how she created the recipe to use up excess lettuce in her restaurant's kitchen....

        2. Mine doesn't have the candied ginger in the dressing, and we sprinkle slivered almond on top.

          My Mum got the recipe from a Scandinavian friend of hers who called it Japanese chicken salad LOL

          1. I just had this last night at a dinner party at my sister's boyfriends place and it was fantastic. I actually had dreams about it, it was that good.
            This version was a combo of shredded iceberg and red cabbage, chopped cilantro and scallions and chicken breast gently poached then shredded.
            The dressing was soy, rice vinegar, dark and regular sesame oil and sugar, IIRC.
            We also toasted lots of white sesame seeds to sprinkle over the dressed chicken and salad, along with some chopped peanuts.
            With the saifun noodles it was devine! So yummy I ate twice as much as usual and didn't really feel bad about it either, it seems relatively healthy!
            Next time I make it myself I will probably sub-in brown rice or bulger for the fried noodles but that's just so I can eat it ALL THE TIME!!!

            2 Replies
            1. re: rabaja

              That sounds good. SOunds like something I'll have in the fridge all summer in fact LOL

              1. re: rabaja

                Healthy except for the salt factor.

                I really love the chopped preserved red ginger in the dressing. I made it with cilantro tonight but decided I like it better without. A friend said her uncle taught her the recipe and always put in cilantro.

              2. My "Japanese" dressing for the "Chinese" salad: in a small jar, mix oil, vinegar, toasted and ground sesame seeds, salt, some sugar, black pepper, and finely chopped scallion or green onion (the green part included).

                1. There are as many takes on Chinese Chicken Salad as there are cooks. Never had it with Soy Sauce Chicken, but it is a new take for me.

                  My favorite at this time is one using a Costco Chicken. Large, juicy and easy to work with. In Chinese is translated as "Hand Shredded Chicken".

                  So when I make it (not often now) I shred the chicken by hand and separate the white meat and dark meat ( I normally mix the meat with the dressing and form a hub of dark meat and a ring it with white meat and top the lettuce).

                  Then there is the Ming's of Palo Alto (the former owners when it was setting trends in Cantonese food) which used fried chicken.

                  Lettuce, red onion cut into thin rings, Chinese sweet pickles and finely matchstick cut celery. I mixed with little dressing since I mixed more dressing with chicken that way lettuce stayed more crisp. I use crushed peanuts not sesame seeds (the seeds like to get between my teeth).

                  Not sure if this a California creation, but my Mother made a this dish in fifty for me. I have a dislike of vegetables as already noted on this board.

                  Hey maybe a dish for the upcoming Chow picnic in the Bay Area.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: yimster

                    Yeah! We could have a "Chinese" Chicken Salad cook-off!

                    1. re: oakjoan

                      Was not sure if I was going but now with a chance of a cook-off I may have to rethink my plans.

                  2. The first time I had it was several years ago from Wolfgang Puck's Express in O'Hare airport. I carried it onto my flight and had a party! Then I began to look forward eagerly to changing planes in O'Hare so I could buy that dish. Then I bought his cookbook w/ the recipe, though it doesn't seem quite the same. But yum -- fresh tasting and tasy.

                    1. I've been making something similar for a few months now that I grabbed on-line called "Chinese-y Salad". It's all veggie, though...no meat. I'd never even heard of it before!

                      Curiously enough.... I receive a recipe daily from All Recipes and - when I opened the e-mail today what did my wondering eyes behold???? That's right. But it's diplomatically called "Asian Chicken Salad.

                      1. I love this stuff. I first had it in 1979 in a chinese restaurant on Wishire Blvd. in L.A., and I recreated it to make at home. Always a hit. The candied red ginger makes it, IMHO.