Many and I mean MANY years ago when I lived in a southern suburb of St. Louis, I used to frequent a neighborhood restaurant with friends for after dinner drinks or an occasional meal. As a matter of fact, when I was 28 years old and moving from St. Louis to Raleigh, NC with my then husband for his job; the last get together we had with friends was at this favorite spot. I don’t have a clue what I ordered for dinner but I will never forget my dessert of Bananas Foster Crepes; crepes filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with an amazing combination of bananas, brown sugar, butter, rum and toasted pecans. I loved it so much that even though we were moving, I went out the next day to find a cookbook (Internet? Yeah, no. Not existent at the time!) with this amazing combination. Now I realize it’s a riff on a New Orleans favorite but at the time I wanted to make sure I could recreate it for my husband after we were moved and settled. Mission accomplished and now maybe you’re wondering what in the heck this has to do with an Asian Chicken Salad?
Well, I long ago forgot the name of the restaurant and it bugged me when I wrote that post for Bananas Foster Crepes; I think I have a good memory but nothing seemed to jog that information loose so I somehow managed to move on with life and the issue was forgotten. Then one day recently, my friend Kristen posted a Copycat Recipe for Asian Chicken Salad from Houlihan’s on her blog Dine and Dish and I’m surprised you didn’t hear me whooping and hollering wherever you are. I had never had the Asian Chop Chop Chicken Salad but the name of the restaurant? Houlihan’s!? That was it!! The home of Bananas Foster Crepes. A quick search of locations pretty much confirmed what I quickly surmised. Even though they are a chain, they are not everywhere; not even close to NC and also not in Denver. So a name that used to be familiar had been lost to the furthest recesses of my brain and it wasn’t until I saw Kristen mention it that the dessert and the restaurant were once again magically aligned.
So, I made this dish out of some sense of homage to that memory, and, well, to the fact that:
- I had no dinner planned (thanks for the rescue Kristen!)
- I had almost everything I needed on hand
- It definitely had the ‘Mmmm Good’ factor going on
What I didn’t have I had substitutes for so I was good to go and I had dinner on the table within a half hour. YAY to that right?
Kristen had switched hers up a bit and added some canned beans to the mix. I opted instead for some salted peanuts (which really is a bean so I didn’t stray far) and plain old green cabbage instead of Napa. I keep a well stocked refrigerator and pantry so I seldom shop for one or two items, preferring to make substitutions when I can. The only thing I wished I had on hand that I didn’t were the fried wonton strips but luckily I had some chow mein noodles and they were perfect; more a crispy layer to the salad than a big flavor one. Houlihan’s menu indicates differing ingredients and while I didn’t have snow peas, I will next time. Truth is you can switch up a lot of the salad ingredients using what you have on hand or what you love; it’s the chicken that’s covered in a glorious sauce that is the star. They call it a ginger honey mustard dressing so I was called to add a bit of each. I LOVE mustard and especially love whole grain mustard so that was easy and really the marriage of honey and mustard is so perfect that honey became a requisite too!
This was easy, light and tasty. Maybe the best kind of meal to eat right before you have a big serving of Bananas Foster Crepes. 🙂
Asian Chicken Salad from Houlihan's - Copycat Recipe
For the chicken
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 Tbsps sesame oil (I didn't have; so I added a Tbsp of toasted Sesame Seeds)
- 1 tsp ginger
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 1 tsp chili paste (I like it a bit spicier!)
- 1 tsp whole grain mustard
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 2 Tbsp corn starch
- 1 pound chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
For the Salad
- Green Cabbage, 1/2 head shredded
- Romaine Lettuce
- 4 carrots, shredded
- 1/2 cup Salted Peanuts
- Chow Mein Noodles
- In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, sesame oil, ginger, minced garlic, onions, chili paste and corn starch.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat and add sauce ingredients; whisking until it comes to a low boil. Add chicken.
- Cook for approximately 8 minutes, or until chicken pieces is completely cooked and sauce has thickened. Remove from heat.
- To assemble the salad, layer the romaine lettuce, shredded carrots and cabbage in the bottom of a bowl.
- Add chicken, a tablespoon of salted nuts and drizzle the chicken and peanuts with additional sauce.
- Top with the chow mein noodles and serve.