Barbecued pork, macadamia nuts, and a hoisin mustard vinaigrette make this restaurant staple something special. A founding father of Hawaiian cuisine shows you how.
Chinese Chicken Salad, Alan Wong’s Amasia, Maui
You won’t find a Chinese chicken salad at any of the restaurants run by Alan Wong—except at his newest, his first on Maui: Alan Wong’s Amasia (3850 Wailea Alanui Dr., 808-891-3954.
The dish was created specially for this establishment in the Grand Wailea resort, which opened earlier this year. Amasia—named for the continent scientists expect to form when North America and Asia crunch together millions of years from now—serves a wide range of small plates, as well as sushi and robata-grill specialties. The Chinese chicken salad is one of a handful of larger family-style offerings.
“It’s a dish everyone can relate to,” says Wong, who’s widely regarded as a founding father of Hawaiian regional cuisine. “I wanted to create a salad with familiar flavors for guests coming from everywhere. Since I don’t do authentic Chinese or Japanese food, my dishes are always my own interpretation.”
His Chinese chicken salad is no exception. Sure, as in most versions, tender chicken pieces are tossed gently with crisp veggies and other ingredients. But Wong adds macadamia nuts for extra crunch and Chinese barbecued pork (char siu) to boost the Asian flavors. If you don’t know of a nearby Chinese deli or Asian grocery where you can buy the specialty pork, ham sliced into matchstick-size pieces makes a tasty substitute.
Make the vinaigrette ahead so that the diverse flavors can come together into a complex dressing. Just be sure to hold off on tossing the dressing into the salad until you’re ready to eat, so that all the elements stay crisp. Then, enjoy a taste of Hawaii—without the long plane ride.
Alan Wong’s Amasia Chinese Chicken Salad
Adapted with permission from the recipe by chef Alan Wong
12 ribs romaine lettuce, chopped
⅔ pound poached chicken, skinned, boned, and shredded
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 rib of celery, cut into matchsticks
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves ¼ cup (about 2 ounces) macadamia nuts or cashews, coarsely chopped
2 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
½ pound Chinese char siu pork (or ham), cut into matchsticks
4 won ton wrappers, sliced into ¼-inch ribbons and deep fried until crisp
Hoisin Soy Mustard Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted in a dry skillet
1. In a mixing bowl, combine lettuce, chicken, carrots, celery, cilantro, nuts, green onion, Chinese barbecued pork, and fried won ton slivers.
2. Pour some of the vinaigrette over the salad and toss well. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and sprinkle it with the sesame seeds. Serve immediately. Any leftover vinaigrette can be held in the refrigerator for up to several days. It’s good on basic salads or lightly cooked vegetables.
Hoisin Soy Mustard Vinaigrette (makes about 1 cup)
¼ cup shoyu or any Japanese-style soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons mirin (a sweet Japanese rice wine available in many supermarkets)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon Hawaiian chili pepper water or other Tabasco-style hot sauce, to taste
4 tablespoons lime juice
1 1-inch coin of fresh ginger, skin on, smashed
1 tablespoon Coleman’s mustard powder mixed with 2 teaspoons hot water
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. Set the vinaigrette aside for an hour or so to allow the flavors to meld. Before dressing the salad, discard the ginger, then taste and adjust the seasonings.
Photography by Tony Novak-Clifford
This article was first published in September 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.