salad days

  0711_salad1 A dozen years ago, when we were living in California and I was very pregnant with Callum, I went to a wedding shower for a woman that Neel worked with. (I ended up going into labor the day after her wedding.) The woman hosting the shower, who was the wife of one of Neel's bosses, served two really lovely salads. All the ladies went ga-ga over them. One was Flying Farmer Chicken Salad and one was Chinese Chicken Salad, pictured here.

I really liked the Flying Farmer Salad, but that Chinese Chicken Salad? Oh my! Ramen in a salad! I had no idea! (Remember, this was a looooong time ago. I had a lot to learn about food, apparently.) Everyone loved those salads so much that our hostess kindly shared the recipes, and after Callum was born that Chinese Chicken Salad was just about all I wanted to eat. I'm not joking. I don't know what it was: the crisp green Napa Cabbage, the crunchy ramen, the salty/sweet dressing, but I absolutely craved that salad. Poor Neel made it for me over and over again. I can remember sitting in our bedroom with the bright California sunshine streaming in through the high windows, tiny Callum slumbering beside me as I scarfed down bowl after bowl of that salad.

Here we are a dozen years and 3,000 miles later and we're still making that salad. There are as many recipes for Chinese Chicken Salad as there are for potpie, I'd imagine. My mom read us one when she was up here last time that I meant to write down and try, but I forgot. I lost the original recipe for ours a long time ago, but here's how we do it:

Chop one head of Napa Cabbage
Crush 2 packs of Ramen Noodles (with seasoning packet)
Cube about a cup of cooked chicken breast (optional, but my meat-eating manchild prefers it)

Saute the Ramen in a bit of vegetable oil until lightly brown. Combine Napa and chicken and add Ramen.

For the dressing, in a jar with a lid combine:
Vegetable oil (I totally eyeball this, but I'm guessing about 1/3 cup, maybe a little more)
A dash of toasted sesame oil
Soy sauce (Maybe another 1/4 to 1/3 cup, just less than the oil)
A dash of rice vinegar
Sugar, several tablespoons.  All to taste.

Shake to combine, taste and adjust before adding to the salad. If you add the dressing while the Ramen is still warm, it makes a nice sizzle!

Like I said, we've been making it for years. It's a staple in our house now, especially in the summer. A cool and easy go-to supper. Except when your twelve-year-old gets mad at you when you have to break into the hurricane-kit stash of Ramen, and he decides that this makes him sad.

Sometimes I really hate September.