This dish is adapted from my grandmother’s Japanese salad recipe. She passed when I was young, so I’m not at all sure where the recipe came from or if there’s even a story. Among the various salads that are served in Japan (cucumber salad, seaweed salad, etc.) there’s no dish in particular that’s called a Japanese salad and I have not been able to find any dish that resembles this recipe. To me, it has always been know as ‘grandma Morimoto’s Japanese salad’ and so, that’s how it will remain.
I have loved this salad ever since I can remember! And if you’re a child asking for this salad at dinner, then it must be pretty special. Juicy strips of chicken on a bed of crisp greens, crunchy rice sticks, toasted sesame seeds, almonds, all topped with a peppery/sweet dressing – it’s full of flavor and incredibly delicious!
- 1 ounce Maifun rice sticks (the thin kind), dry and pulled apart
- vegetable oil, for frying
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup grapeseed oil
- 3½ tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning the chicken
- 1½ teaspoon black pepper, plus extra for seasoning the chicken
- 2 romaine hearts, chopped
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 4 scallions
- 2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
- Fill a saute pan with ¼ inch of vegetable oil and heat to 350 degrees F. You can test the oil by throwing in a few rice sticks - if they puff up immediately, the oil is ready. Working in batches, gently drop a handful of the rice sticks (pulled apart) into the oil, quickly flip them once they have puffed – it will only take seconds for them to cook. Remove the rice sticks and allow them to drain on a paper towel. Continue cooking the remaining rice sticks in this fashion.
- To make the dressing, add the red wine vinegar, grapessed oil, sugar, salt, and pepper to a small sauce pan. Over medium heat, stir the contents until the sugar has completely dissolved. Do not let it boil. Set aside and allow to cool.
- Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to another sauté pan placed over medium-high heat. Liberally season both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Cook 4-5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. (You may want to pound the chicken breasts prior to adding to the pan so they are the same thickness, this will ensure even cooking).
- Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes, tented under aluminum foil. Once cool enough to handle, slice into thin strips.
- In a large bowl, add the lettuce, almonds, toasted sesame seeds, rice sticks, and sliced chicken. At this point, the dressing may have separated - stir very well to emulsify the ingredients. Drizzle the dressing all over the salad and toss well to combine.
- Serve and Enjoy!