Chinese Chicken Salad

I enjoy salads year round, but there is something about the summer that screams salad for lunch.  This delicious salad graces the cover of my copy of Perfect Pairings by Evan Goldstein and makes me salivate every time I pick up the book.

This recipe would pair well with an apple and apricot flavored, dry or slightly off-dry Riesling.

Chinese Chicken Salad

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

salt and freshly ground black pepper

vegetable oil for frying (such as canola or olive oil)

Ginger-Soy Dressing

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

3 tablespoons finely  minced peeled fresh ginger

2 tablespoons hot mustard

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons white or rice vinegar

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (such as canola, peanut or grapeseed oil)

salt to taste

Salad

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut on the diagonal into 1/4 inch slices

2 small heads romaine, coarsely shredded

1 cup bean sprouts

1/4 cup minced green onions (mostly green parts)

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

For the chicken:

* Lightly pound the chicken breasts between sheets of plastic wrap to a uniform thickness.

* Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.

* In a large sauté pan, pour the oil to a depth of 1/4 inch and warm over medium-high heat.

* Add the chicken breasts and fry until golden and cooked through, turning once, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

* Drain the chicken on a plate lined with paper towels.  When cool, shred into a large bowl.

For the dressing:

* Puree the garlic and ginger in a small food processor.

* Add the mustard, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil and pulse to combine.

* Gradually beat in the vegetable oil, a drop at a time, until the mixture emulsifies.

* Season the dressing to taste with salt.

To serve:

* Add the cucumber slices to the chicken in the bowl and toss with 1/2 cup or more of the dressing to moisten the mixture well.

* Combine the romaine, bean sprouts, green onions, and fresh cilantro in another bowl and toss with 1/2 cup of the dressing.

* Distribute the greens mixture evenly among salad plates.

* Place the chicken and cucumber mixture atop the greens.

* Drizzle with some of the remaining dressing if desired.

* Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve.

Variations:

* You can broil or grill or poach the chicken breasts instead of frying them.

* You can try sweet sliced jicama in place of the cucumber.

* You can use toasted pine nuts as a sweeter substitute for toasted sesame seeds.

Recommended Riesling Wine Producers:

Everyday:  Dr. Burklin-Wolf, St. Urbans-Hof, Navarro

Premium:  J.J. Prum, Zilliken, Grosset Wines

Splurge:  Robert Weil, Franz Kunstler, Gunderloch

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