Classic Asian flavors shine through in this healthy and delicious, gluten-free broccoli slaw salad.
Crunchy Chinese Chicken Broccoli Salad is an awesome dish with Asian inspired flavors and the main ingredient is packaged broccoli slaw so it’s super convenient to make. Years ago, I used to make a version of this salad that contained Ramen noodles. The uncooked noodles were broken apart and mixed into the salad and the seasoning packet that came with the noodles was used to make a vegetable oil based dressing to which refined sugar was added. I won’t go into the reasons one should avoid eating Ramen noodles – they are far too numerous to list here, but if you have any doubt about this just do a Google search. My quick search returned articles with titles like “Ramen Noodles May Lead to Chronic Illness” and “Why Ramen Noodles Could Cut Your Life Short”. Scary stuff. I’m all for indulging on occasion when it’s worth it but in this case, I was able to health-ify my old recipe and I think it actually tastes better now!
The defining characteristic of this salad is crunch and boy does it deliver! The broccoli slaw, red bell pepper, and especially the sesame rice crackers, all combine to give Crunchy Chinese Chicken Broccoli Salad an amazing taste and texture. (Be sure to add the cracker pieces just prior to serving for maximum crunch.) In addition to using more healthful ingredients than the previous incarnation of this recipe, I added some classic Asian flavors – rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and Chinese five spice blend. Chinese five spice blend is a pungent combination of spices that is prominent in Chinese cooking. The exact blend of spices varies but they all usually include star anise, cloves, and cinnamon. Other blends might also include fennel, coriander, and peppercorns. The blend I used for this recipe contains anise, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and ginger. (Note that anise and star anise are two different plants. Ironically however, they both impart a licorice flavor.) Experiment with different Chinese five spice blends or increase the amount used in this recipe to amp up the Asian flavor.
Unlike lettuce based salads which don’t keep well after they’re dressed, Crunchy Chinese Chicken Broccoli Salad stays fresh and crunchy for a couple of days when stored in the fridge. After a busy day, there’s nothing better than being able to pull a complete meal out of your refrigerator. No re-heating or other fussing required. Just spoon it on a plate, sprinkle on the cracker pieces are serve. Feel free to substitute shrimp for the chicken in Crunchy Chinese Chicken Broccoli Salad. This dish would also be a great use for leftover steak or pork.
Crunchy Chinese Chicken Broccoli Salad makes a great lunch or light dinner. It’s easy, delicious, keeps well, and tastes great at room temperature, making it perfect for casual entertaining or buffet style dining.
- ½ cup olive oil or avocado oil
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice blend
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 - 12 oz. package broccoli slaw
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- 1 (small) bunch scallions, chopped (white and light green parts)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped (1/4-inch dice)
- ¾ cup thinly sliced, toasted almonds
- 1 pound cooked, shredded chicken (see notes)
- 16 gluten-free plain or sesame rice crackers, roughly broken up into ½ inch pieces
- In a large bowl whisk together the oil, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, honey, Chinese five spice blend, salt, and pepper.
- Add the broccoli slaw, dried cranberries, scallions, red bell pepper, toasted almonds, and chicken. Combine all the ingredients thoroughly.
- Add broken crackers just prior to serving.
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Love the idea of using crunchy sesame rice crackers in place of ramen noodles for that telltale crunch of chinese chicken salad!