Introduction: Chicken Salad

About: I helped start Instructables, previously worked in biotech and academic research labs, and have a degree in biology from MIT. Currently head of Product helping young startups at Alchemist Accelerator, previous…

A tasty Asian-inspired variation on chicken salad.

Step 1: Prepare Chicken

You'll need cooked chicken. If you've got leftovers that's great- proceed directly to chopping.

I had a number of chicken breasts on hand, so I sprayed a pan with canola oil, added my chicken, covered the pieces with ground pepper (turning them to ensure full coverage) then cooked them at 350F until they just started turning golden-brown on top. Make sure the juices run clear when you slice into the middle of the thick pieces. If you're colorblind make sure you've got an assistant on hand who can tell the difference between pink and clear juices. Pink is undercooked; dry is overcooked. We want the happy medium.

If you start the meat cooking before chopping the vegetables the timing will work out very nicely.

When the chicken is cooked chop it into bite-size pieces and set aside.

Step 2: Add Base Ingredients

1 purple onion, finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
1c mayonnaise
2-3T good mustard

These are your base ingredients. Chop the vegetables well, then stir.

Step 3: Incorporate Additional Ingredients

chicken, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 cup raisins

Add and stir. Look at the color combination- do you like the balance of red, green, purple, brown, and white? Do you want more crunch (celery) or sweetness (raisins)? Add more of your favored bits as necessary.

Step 4: Season

1 lime, zested and juiced
3 large cloves garlic, grated
1 inch ginger, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Optional seasonings:
seasoned rice vinegar
white pepper
sriracha chili sauce (rooster sauce)

Mix in the seasonings above; taste to check, and modify if needed. The optional seasonings are exactly that, and shouldn't all be added together. I'm particularly partial to allspice, but it and the other subtle spices would likely get lost under much sriracha. The rice vinegar is helpful if the salad is too dry, while sriracha obviously adds heat. Play around with your spicing- sniff containers, make small mixes in a spoon to try, and see what you like, or at least what you feel like eating today. There's no right or wrong here- just your taste.

Step 5: Serve

Serve at room temperature or chilled.

This is particularly good served on lettuce leaves. They add additional cruch, and remove the need for silverware. This makes fun finger food for kids or for a buffet. Here I've used individual leaves from Little Gem romaine, though it's easy to cut up larger leaves for bite-size portions.

Top with chopped toasted nuts if you like.