Summer calls for all manner of salads–pasta, potato, tuna macaroni. They’re great for days when you want an easy dinner or need something to bring along to a backyard party. Problem is, these salads often call for mayo. Gobs and gobs of it. I’m never a big mayo fan, and in the heat of summer it doesn’t always suit my desire for light, fresh foods.
I made this chicken salad on a night when it was too hot even to consider cooking. A rotisserie chicken from the store made it supremely easy to assemble. The mango and lime turned it into summertime in a bowl. The sesame oil and–if you have it hanging around as I do–a few drops of fish sauce, make it decidedly savory and suggest Thai flavors. The addition of a Thai chili would be welcome here, but I’m not much for spicy food so I didn’t welcome the chili to join my salad.
Here’s what I did:
SUMMERTIME CHICKEN SALAD
1 bunch of scallions
1/2 head of savoy cabbage
Juice of 2 limes
1 tsp. sugar
few drops of fish sauce
few drops of sesame oil
2 tsp. olive oil
pinch of salt
1/4 c. cilantro
Thai chili (optional–I opted not)
First, I shredded the rotisserie chicken. This is easiest to do the day you buy it, after it has cooled enough to handle. I find it far more difficult to disassemble a rotisserie chicken after it has been refrigerated.
Next, I cut the mango into a large dice. Mangoes are not the easiest fruits to deal with. I usually peel the skin from a mango with a very sharp paring knife. Then, I cut it away from the pit and cube it up.
I sliced up a small bunch of scallions.
I shredded the cabbage, added it to the mango and scallions.
I added the chicken and mixed it all up.
Then I assembled the dressing. I juiced two limes, added a few drops of fish sauce, a few drops of sesame oil, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp. of sugar, and 2 tsp. of olive oil. If you’ve never used fish sauce, you don’t need to buy it just for this, but it does make a difference. Somehow fish sauce–which smells more or less like feet–makes everything it touches taste more deeply, mysteriously delicious. I don’t pretend to understand. I just eat it and am astonished anew each time. But go easy. A few drops is all you need. Same goes for sesame oil. It’s potent stuff. But it’s incredibly flavorful.
I tossed the salad with the dressing and about 1/4 cup of cilantro.
Then I ate it. It was really delicious. The sweet/sour/salty dressing really brought out the sweetness of the mango without thrusting the whole salad into an identity crisis. A perfect salad for a summer evening.