Chinese Chicken Salad

This is the best Chinese chicken salad I have ever had. The perfect balance of sweet, tangy, acid, umami. Delicious and refreshing!

Ingredients (salad)
4 won ton wrappers, cut in strips (optional)
Oil for frying
1/2 ounce rice noodles
1 1/3 cups shredded roasted chicken breast
3 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
1 tablespoon shredded preserved red ginger*
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
2+ tablespoons lightly toasted sesame seeds

Ingredients (dressing)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons mushroom soy sauce**
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Heat oil to 375 degrees.

2. If using the optional won ton strips, fry until golden brown and crispy, and drain. Note that I never do this salad with wonton as I think the rice noodles in a shallow fry provide the perfect crispiness, and the wonton strips are a little overboard... but they are certainly up to you.

3. Fry rice noodles until white and puffed. Drain and cool.

4. Place chicken in large bowl. Top with lettuce, ginger, carrot, cabbage, won ton (optional), noodles and sesame seeds. Pour 1/4 cup or more Dressing over salad and toss to coat ingredients well. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Note: You can store leftover dressing in a tightly covered container and refrigerate up to 1 month.

* If you can't find (or don't want to pay for) preserved red ginger, you can make it. Bring 2/3 cup water and 2/3 cup sugar to a boil in a small saucepan and set aside to cool. You can stir in pomegranate juice, maraschino cherry liqueur, or food coloring for the red color. Then shred (or julienne) some fresh, peeled ginger and place in another pan with a cup of cold water and bring to a boil. Drain and repeat 2-3 times depending on how old your ginger is. Then add the drained ginger to the sugar syrup and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Note that the ginger is important to this recipe. Although it does not need to be red, it does pretty up the look of the dish.

I'll be the first to agree the above is a lot of work for what you get, and I have significantly simplified it over the last couple of months (that is if you don't care about the red color). Just put a couple of 1 inch thick pieces of peeled ginger in a cup of water and bring to a boil in the microwave. Drain, and repeat. At this point it should be easy to coarsely mince. Then put the mince in a half cup of water with a half cup of sugar, and microwave to a boil. Let it cool while you prep your other ingredients and it will be ready when cool.

** Mushroom Soy Sauce is a dark soy sauce with mushroom extract. If you can't find it, you can replicate it as well. Simply steep thinly sliced mushrooms in a small covered bowl or ramekin of hot (almost to a boil) soy sauce for about 30 minutes. If you have dried mushrooms all the better, but fresh will work. When cool, either ring out the mushroom/soy sauce mixture through a couple layers of cheesecloth, or puree in blender or food processor and put through a fine mesh strainer. Note that in a pinch, a good regular old soy sauce will be just fine for this recipe.