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Barefoot! Asian Chicken Salad

April 9, 2009


First of all, I want to thank McKenzie, of Kenzie’s Kitchen for choosing this recipe.  Occasionally I get stuck in a rut with my recipes.  I find a particular flavor combination that I like and I don’t want to try anything else knowing I’ll be disappointed.  

I reluctantly checked the pantry for all of my Asian staples and set out for the remaining ingredients to throw this dish together.  I debated using ground chicken because I was making the salad to be a lettuce wrap dinner but ended up growling at the meat grinder in laziness.  I cut up the chicken breasts into small pieces and actually sauteed them with a little olive oil in a skillet.

To the dressing, I stayed true for the most part swapping just a couple ingredients to make the flavor more powerful.  I used rice wine vinegar instead of the cider vinegar which cut the vinegar flavor considerably.  I also swapped vegetable oil for olive oil and reduced the amount to 2 T.  To make up for the moisture, I added about 1/4 c coconut milk.  

To say we loved this dish is an understatement.  I made it right after work, planning on mixing it all together and going to kick-boxing but instead ended up taking a call from one of my best friends and chatting away for a couple hours.  The dish only got better as the time went on.  We wrapped it in iceburg lettuce and devoured it as lettuce wraps at 9:00.  It was perfect.  Find the original recipe at FoodNetwork or in Barefoot Contessa Parties!

I’m sorry McKenzie.  You were right, I was wrong.

Chinese Asian Chicken Salad
Adapted from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa

4 boneless, skinless chicken breats cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 T olive oil
Salt & Pepper
1 lb asparagus
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2″ pieces
For the dressing:
2 T olive oil
3 T rice wine vinegar
3 T Tamari (dark soy sauce)
1 T sesame oil
1 T honey
1 clove garlic, grated with microplane
1/2″ ginger, grated with microplane
1 T toasted sesame seeds
1/4 c peanut butter
1/4 c coconut milk
1/2 T crushed red pepper flakes

1 head iceburg lettuce (or any other sturdy lettuce) 
2 scallions, sliced for garnish 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside.  Blanch the asparagus for about 30 seconds (any longer and it’d be over cooked for us).  Immediately put the asparagus into the ice water bath to shock it.  Remove to a cutting board and cut into 1″ pieces.


In a large skillet, preheat 1 T olive oil over medium heat.  Saute the chicken pieces until browned.  Season with salt and pepper, remove from heat.  


In a large bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients.  Once thickened, add the veggies and chicken and stir to combine.  Garnish with sliced scallions.


That’s it!  This was one of the fastest dishes I’ve ever prepared from The Contessa… it was also one of the most fabulous!

Not a Barefooter yet?  You should be ashamed of yourself!  Look at all of these great recipes we’re cooking up!

23 Comments leave one →
  1. April 9, 2009 10:32

    Nice call on using olive oil. Your pics look great.

  2. April 9, 2009 10:56

    Yay! There is nothing better than going into one of these challenges with low or no expectations and then finding that you love the dish. I LOVE the modifications you made to this, particularly cutting back on the oil. It looks beautiful – so glad this was a hit!

  3. April 9, 2009 11:13

    Your fixes sound much better than mine … mine was a dud. Well done! Looks fantastic.

  4. April 9, 2009 11:27

    Yum, that looks amazing Cat! I love the changes you made, too!

  5. April 9, 2009 11:54

    Looks great! I love that you made them into lettuce wraps…yum!

  6. Kimberly permalink
    April 9, 2009 14:26

    I should have tried the rice wine vinegar like you did–I thought the cider vinegar was a just a bit tart and overpowering in the dressing. I’ll have to try that next time. And I love the idea of lettuce wraps!

  7. April 9, 2009 14:43

    i totally agree — it’s very customizable. i wish i’d had the sesame seeds; they add such a fun touch =)

    happy easter (or passover) to you, too!

  8. April 9, 2009 15:35

    Your salad looks beautiful–love the idea of using it in lettuce wrap. I cut a lot of the oil down too and loved the lightness.

  9. juju73 permalink
    April 9, 2009 16:44

    Your pics are beautiful! You did a fantastic job!!!

  10. April 9, 2009 17:17

    Your pics look awesome! I like the changes you made.

  11. April 9, 2009 19:55

    Yes the rice wine vinegar was good in this! I like the coconut milk idea too. And I like your thinking on the wine….it is so healthy for you!

  12. April 9, 2009 20:42

    I have never used coconut milk before….I wonder what it would be like….maybe I’ll try it!

  13. April 9, 2009 21:08

    Lettuce wraps sound like a perfect fit for this! The thought of cooking the ingredients in a wok very quickly before adding the dressing did cross my mind. I don’t think it was necessary to roast the chicken.

  14. April 9, 2009 21:56

    Isn’t that funny? I wasn’t about making this, either, but it’s so, so good. A total keeper.

  15. April 10, 2009 06:58

    Love the idea of the lettuce wrap and the coconut milk. Much more Asian. And I bet the ground chicken would have been good too.

  16. April 10, 2009 07:25

    Ina does good stuff! Looks awesome, a keeper to be sure!

  17. April 10, 2009 08:19

    Wow, I’ll bet this was great wrapped in lettuce! The coconut milk sounds really tasty, too.

  18. April 10, 2009 13:09

    You are a genius to wrap it in lettuce leaves! What a great idea!

    I can so relate to the laziness. 🙂

  19. April 10, 2009 14:02

    Your salad looks great. We actually liked ours better the second day when it was cold from the refrigerator. It was something fun to make on a weeknight. I love easy recipes!

  20. April 11, 2009 14:48

    You have some great ideas for recipe variations! I would have never thought of coconut milk, but I bet it tasted wonderful. I’m sure you hear it all the time, but I also imagine you never tire of hearing it….Thank you so much for the sacrifices you and your family make to protect our freedoms!! Happy Easter 🙂

  21. April 12, 2009 11:01

    I love how you modified this recipe! It sounds wonderful. I may have to try it again!

  22. April 12, 2009 12:59

    Coconut milk , what a great idea. Looks fabulous.!

  23. sandy earnest permalink
    April 20, 2009 06:20

    My daughter made this salad for a rather large crowd (her son”s birthday party) all the adult people really liked it and the longer it sat, the better it got. Sandy

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