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This recipe is from a New York Times article written by Martha Rose Shulman about how to get kids to eat better by making similar-tasting but healthier versions of their favorite foods. I think it's also a good trick for adults. From the article: "Kids like Chinese chicken salad mainly because of those deep-fried noodles. Wean them off the fried stuff with this light version, always a favorite in my kids’ cooking classes. It’s pretty, and the sweet red peppers and cucumbers add lots of crunch. Some children like the cilantro, and some don’t; if you omit it, the salad will be just as good."
For the poached chicken breasts
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
- 2 quarts water
- 1⁄2 onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1 -1 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 2 sprigs parsley
For the salad
- 1 bunch scallion, white part and green, thinly sliced
- 1 small cucumbers, peeled if waxy, seeded and diced or 1⁄2 long seedless European cucumber, seeded and diced
- 1 small red bell pepper, quartered, seeded, cut across the grain in thin strips
- 1⁄4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 1 garlic cloves, minced or 1 garlic clove, put through a press
- 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
- 1 -2 tablespoon soy sauce (to taste)
- 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1⁄3 cup low-fat buttermilk or 1⁄3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
- 1 tablespoon chicken stock or 1 tablespoon water, for thinning out if necessary
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- romaine lettuce leaf, for serving (optional)
- To poach the chicken breasts, combine the water, the quartered onion, the whole crushed garlic cloves and salt in a two-quart saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts, and bring back to a simmer. Skim off any foam that rises, then add the parsley. Cover partially, reduce the heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Allow the chicken to cool in the broth in the refrigerator, if you have extra time. Remove the chicken from the broth when cool enough to handle. Shred the chicken by hand (it pulls apart naturally into shreds). Strain the chicken broth, set aside a few tablespoons, and freeze the rest in small containers.
- ****Advance preparation: The poached chicken breasts, whole or shredded, will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator. You can prepare the ingredients hours ahead and toss before serving. You could also marinate the shredded chicken for several hours in the dressing.
- Combine the shredded poached chicken, the white and light green parts of the scallions, the cucumber, peppers and cilantro in a large salad bowl.
- In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, vinegar, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame and canola oils, and buttermilk or yogurt. Whisk together. If the dressing is too thick, thin out with chicken stock or water. Taste, and add salt and pepper as desired. Toss with the chicken mixture. Taste, and adjust seasoning. Line a platter or salad bowl with the lettuce leaves, and top with the salad. Sprinkle the top with the green part of the onions if you wish, and serve.