Suffice to say, I’m looking forward to a fresh start, food wise. And my mind has turned to salads. It is like tasty, crunchy penance.
This salad has a decidedly Asian flare. Napa Cabbage is a staple in Chinese cuisine, and is, in fact, a symbol of prosperity there. It makes a fitting salad for the new year, I believe. If you are not concerned with prosperity, but only seek happiness, you might also consider my recipe for Happy Salad.
You can adjust the amount of tamari to your liking. I like a lot. My husband liked the light nature of the dressing. So I just added an additional sprinkle to my salad when I served it. You should consider this a base from which to create. I thought it would also be wonderful with sugar snap peas, and maybe even some apples or chopped nuts of some kind. Add what you wish.
Tamari is simply a thicker, darker relative of soy sauce. They are both made from fermented soy beans, although soy is more common. Try tamari if you have never done so. You might like the milder flavor. But, soy is a good substitute if that is what you have on hand. Just taste as you go, because it is generally saltier.
Brining the chicken is not strictly necessary. I, however, find that my grocery store chicken can sometimes be a little rubbery and this helps considerably. I do it as a matter of course if I have the few spare minutes. So, I’m not here implying that this particular brand of chicken would be rubbery. In fact, I bought pretty darn good chicken and I brined it anyway. If you buy superior chicken, or if you don’t mind rubbery chicken, feel free to skip this step.
Preparation: (4 large servings, 6-8 small servings)
3 tablespoons apple juice
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup canola oil
4 teaspoons tamari (or soy sauce)
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a small lidded jar. Put the lid on the jar securely and shake to combine. Add more tamari, if desired.
Place the salt and sugar in a large bowl filled with approximately 2 quarts cool water. When the salt and sugar have dissolved, add the chicken. Allow the chicken to sit in the brine for 20 minutes. Drain the water from the bowl, rinse the chicken with water once, and pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Prepare a grill pan or nonstick skillet by warming it over medium heat on the stove top. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for about 4 minutes. Turn the tenders and cook on the other side until cooked through. Cut one tender in half to check for doneness before removing them to a plate. Cover the plate with foil and allow the chicken to rest and cool for at least 10 minutes. When the chicken has cooled, chop it into bite sized pieces.
In a large bowl, toss all of the salad vegetables along with the chicken pieces. Add the dressing and toss again to distribute the dressing. Allow the salad to sit for at least 30 minutes. Toss again before serving.
This salad was optimal after 30 minutes. The leftovers were still great the next day, but not as pretty and crisp. So, if you are making it for guests, serve it fairly soon after making it. But, don’t throw out the leftovers. And speaking of guests, you can prepare every component of this salad ahead of time and keep them separate (veggies/chicken/dressing) and then toss them 30 minutes before serving.