Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Almost Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad

Even though I've only had Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad once in my life (and many years ago), I will always remember it as being one of the tastiest salads I've had. I'm no salad lover, which is why the crunchy toasted almond flakes and crispy noodles really did it for me, not to mention the deep-fried chicken tenders scattered over the top of the salad which made it a complete and satisfying meal. The "oriental" dressing was fantastic, although at the time, I was more focused on enjoying my meal rather than trying to analyse and figure out the components of the dressing.

I googled it and was pleasantly surprised to see a few recipes (bordering around similar ingredients) for this salad. Apparently, I'm only one in thousands of other people who love Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad, and so of course there are many out there who have attempted to recreate this dish at home. As I am thousands and thousands of miles away from the nearest Applebee's, it is quite impossible for me to sample this salad for the sake of replicating it in my kitchen. I could only hope that the copycat recipe I found on the Learntocookit.com was close to the real thing.

The salad component of it is pretty easy - romaine/cos lettuce, Napa/chinese cabbage, red cabbage and carrots. Then you have the deep-fried chicken tenders, which can easily be substituted with frozen chicken tenders that are either oven-baked or deep-fried. Then add some toasted almond flakes and crispy noodles (which I found in the Asian food aisle at the supermarket).

Then comes the dressing. I followed the recipe for the dressing and realised that it tasted just like the sauce used in Chili's Chicken Crispers with Honey Mustard sauce. Delicious as a dipping sauce, but as a salad dressing, it didn't taste very oriental to me. I think the only thing that's oriental about the salad is the crispy noodles! I decided to make a second batch of the dressing and added a touch of soy sauce and plum sauce, and used more sesame oil. I think that seemed to increase the depth of flavour and made it a little more tangy and not just sweet all the way. The combination of the salad with the chicken, dressing and crispy almonds and noodles is fantastic and I enjoyed it so much that I had it again for dinner the next day! I can't say that it tastes like Applebee's (because I had it so very long ago that I can't remember!), but it is a delicious chicken salad that I'll be making again!

Almost Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad
Adapted from LearntoCookit.com




3 tbsp honey (use a neutral tasting honey)
1 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp plum sauce
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp Maille Dijon mustard
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp chopped green onions

For the Salad:

1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp milk
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup corn flake crumbs (finely crushed cornflakes)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast half (or use 4 chicken tenders)
4 cups vegetable oil (for deep frying)
3 cups chopped romaine/cos lettuce
1 cup red cabbage
1 cup Napa cabbage
1/2 carrot, julienned or shredded
2 tbsp toasted almond flakes
1/3 cup crispy chow mein noodles


Place ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and beat with a handwhisk until smooth and creamy. Chill in the fridge.

Place the egg and milk mixture in a shallow bowl. Place flour in another shallow bowl. Place cornflake crumbs on a plate.

Cut the chicken into strips and season with salt and pepper. Dip each strip first in the flour, then egg mixture followed by the cornflake crumbs.

Heat up oil in a wok and deep-fry the chicken for 2-3 minutes each side until golden brown and cooked. Drain on absorbent kitchen paper. Slice the chicken into strips.

Toss the romaine/cos lettuce, red cabbage, Napa cabbage and carrots in a large bowl and top with the almonds and crispy chow mein noodles. Arrange chicken strips over the salad and drizzle the dressing all over.


WendyinKK said...

Your salad looks terrific!

I had something similiar in TGIF many many years back, 10, I think, it was a CNY special.
It was delicious.

Fern @ To Food With Love said...

Thanks Wendy! Nice to have some "sweetness" in the salad, like CNY yee sang :p

Mel said...

This chicken salad alone can serve as a meal as it own. loves both the combination together.

ann low said...

This looks very delicious! I remember I'd this before in Swensen but not sure about the sauce is the same.

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

i seldom make salad, but your salad look so tempting and refreshing!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I haven't tried the original salad but it sounds great. I love being able to recreate my favourite recipes at home :)