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Tao Tao Chicken Salad recipe desired

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I love the chicken salad at Tao Tao in Mountain View, CA. Have been going there for over twenty years just for the salad. I recently moved from Los Gatos to Aptos, south of Santa Cruz, so I won't be able to enjoy this on a whim anymore, (I would feel too guilty making the drive all the way to Mountain View JUST to satisfy a craving). Does anybody know how they make their dressing? The salad ingredients are pretty simple: shredded fried chicken cutlet, shredded iceburg lettuce, cilantro, green onion (I think), crispy bean thread, sesame seeds and chopped peanuts. Their fresh hot mustard is also a must to add, and I have some dried in the refrigerator to mix-up for such occasions. But what's their vinaigrette?
Any ideas? Please help!

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  1. Here's the key! Dressing: mix 1/2 cup peanut oil with prepared hot chinese mustard (like from takeout or Dynasty), and salt. You have to play with this balance depending on how hot your mustard is, but that's it! just those three ingredients. Whisk mustard and kosher salt to tast into oil. it should be really pretty hot and pretty salty. drizzle over the salad VERY sparingly in an oversized bowl. Toss, taste, drizzle. Repeat until perfect. It's GREAT!

    I dip chix breast slices in lite soy sauce then cornstarch. Fry in peanut oil and shred. My salad is just scallion, toasted (unsalted) chopped peanuts, iceberg and cilantro. I don't usually bother with frying bean thread, but it's in Tao Tao's. And I used to get there from Scotts Valley - now I'm in Seattle! Send me some!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Chezstacey

      Hi Chezstacey,
      I did some searching deep into Chow and found your Chef Chu's Chicken Salad post, the one that uses hot mustard, water and sesame seed oil for the dressing, Chinese Five Spice salt and the pouffy, fried vermicelli noodles for crunch. It turned out BEAUTIFUL! Tasted so much like Tao Tao's. I pounded boneless, skinless chicken breast thin. Cut it into three uniform pieces for easier cooking. Coated each with a little 5 spice salt and Jane's Krazy Salt ( a must have for the pantry) beaten egg then corn starch. Fried each piece one at a time in some peanut oil in my wok. Seriously, I could have eaten the chicken on its own, it was so good! I also used a lot of Planters Dry Roasted chopped peanuts. I also used dry Chinese mustard that I get at the Asian markets in Cupertino. Better than Coleman's, I think. My daughter and I gobbled up the full recipe that night between the two of us! I was so ashamed of myself in the morning - Ba ha ha ha - but satisfied!!!
      I can't thank you enough for your posts on this salad. I hope your friends in Seattle enjoy your salad.
      Let's figure out a safe way for you to give me your address (for privacy purposes) and I will thankfully send you some vermicelli and dry mustard. I'm telling you, the vermicelli adds just what you need. It's a little on the unhealthy side, but oh well! I just spent a little extra time the next day at the gymn ;-)
      Let me know if there are any other items from an Asian market you are interested in.
      Happy Cooking!

      1. re: santacruzfoodie

        You are so sweet! I used to live in Scotts Valley. Now I'm close to Seattle and its china town, and I have a giant Asian market very close. I didn't use vermicelli or sai fun because my mom and I were eating it and we just didn't want the fried starch. I used hot mustard my local Chinese takeout place gives out. I like it, but I also have dried and dynasty prepared. One other ingredient I can't live without from the Asian market is Shaohsing wine. It seems to be the key ingredient to making marinades for dishes like broccoli beef and shrimp dishes taste like restaurant Chinese. Glad you got your fix!

    2. In case you have not found a substitute for Tao Tao's chinese chicken salad, have you tried ABC Chinese food in Scotts Valley? I have been going to Tao Tao since the early 60's and Abc's chinese chicken salad is as close as I have been able to find. they also have wonderful Chow Fun.