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Tangy dressing the key to Chinese chicken salad

By Betty Shimabukuro

LAST UPDATED: 2:09 a.m. HST, Sep 22, 2010

A Chinese-style chicken salad is one of those island staples you can get almost anywhere. The salad part is pretty standard: lettuce, chicken, won ton strips. If you want to get fancy, maybe you add some sesame seeds, sliced almonds and a sprinkling of green onion.

It's really the dressing that sets any one version apart. The basic flavor of this dressing -- a little sweet, a little tangy, with a good dose of sesame oil -- most of us know well. The proportions and the balance are key to the best.

L. Flores came across an ideal version while visiting from the East Coast to attend a wedding reception at the Kahala Hotel & Resort. "Even though we are so far away from home, we still try to incorporate the flavors of Hawaii into our everyday cooking," Flores wrote.

Chef Wayne Hirabayashi of the Kahala sent over the recipe in a humongous banquet-sized portion, which I've reduced here. It's a nice, tangy mix that would stand in well for any of those bottled dressings normally labeled "Oriental."

To make even less dressing, work in proportions: 1 part sugar, 1 part sesame oil, 3 parts rice vinegar and 4 parts vegetable oil. Add another pinch of sugar and a healthy amount of salt and pepper, to taste.


2 romaine hearts
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked
1/4 cup Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
1/4 cup fried won ton strips

Cut romaine into bite-sized pieces. Cut or shred and chicken. Toss romaine, chicken and dressing until coated. Top with won ton strips and cilantro. Serve immediately so lettuce doesn't get soggy. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: (with dressing): 250 calories, 14 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 400 mg sodium, 16 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 16 g protein


1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon salt

Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously to mix well. Makes about 2-1/4 cups.

Approximate nutritional information, per 2 tablespoon serving: 150 calories, 15 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 400 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrate, 3 g sugar, no cholesterol, fiber or protein

Nutritional analysis by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S.

Write "By Request," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813. Send e-mail to:

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