"Micro-regional" Chinese dish

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rainyday6
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"Micro-regional" Chinese dish - Wed, 10/21/09 6:29 AM
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This has been driving me nuts since I moved to Sacramento from the SF Bay area.  There is a particular chicken salad that as far as I know, is limited to the area between Palo Alto and San Jose.  I obtained the recipe decades ago but frankly, it's time consuming and messy to make at home.  I'm just wondering if there are other areas of the country where it may have become popular.  It involves deep fried chicken, deep fried rice noodles, cilantro, nuts, sesame, cilantro, green onions and seasoned with Coleman's dry mustard, sesame oil and five spice powder.  It's very unique and the only places I know that still serve it are Mings in Palo Alto, Chef Chu's in Los Altos and Tao Tao cafe in Sunnyvale.  If you look up reviews of those places on Yelp.com, you will see lots of references to how wonderful it is.
 
So - has anyone heard of this outside the Bay? 

EatingTheRoad
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Re:"Micro-regional" Chinese dish - Wed, 10/21/09 8:22 AM
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Here's a recipe that emulates Wolfgang Puck's Asian Chicken Salad       

Chinese Mustard Vinegrette Dressing
2 tsp       dry Chinese or English (Coleman's) mustard
1/4 cup    rice wine vinegar
1 tsp       soy sauce
2 tbl        light sesame oil
2 tbl        peanut oil - (to 3)
               Salt to taste
               Freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Chicken Salad
1    x    chicken - (abt 3 lbs) cavity filled with
            finely-diced celery, carrot, onion,
            garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper
2 oz     unsalted butter melted
2 sm     Napa cabbage heads - (or 1 medium)
1 cup    romaine lettuce in 1/4" julienne strips
10 x    snow peas cut 1/4" julienne strips
1 tbl    sesame seeds toasted

* Prepare the vinaigrette. Place all the vinaigrette ingredients, except peanut oil, in a blender and blend until smooth. Add peanut oil slowly and correct the seasonings.
* Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
* Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan and baste it with some of the butter. Roast for about 1 1/2 hours, or until just done. (The juices should run clear.) Baste every 15 or 20 minutes with the butter and the drippings.
* Select 4 to 8 nice looking leaves from the Napa cabbage and reserve them. Slice the remaining cabbage into 1/4-inch julienne strips.
* Shred the meat from the breasts and thighs of the chicken. (Use the remaining meat and the carcass for Chicken Stock. See separate recipe.)
* Combine the chicken, cabbage, romaine and snow peas in a bowl and toss with enough vinaigrette to coat the salad nicely.
* Arrange the reserved Napa cabbage leaves around the edge of a large serving plate. Mound the salad in the center and sprinkle it with the sesame seeds.
* This recipe yields 4 appetizer or 2 entree salads.
* Comments: This salad has been one of our most popular dishes at Chinois since we opened. It makes a perfect lunch salad or an appetizer with dinner. The dressing is one of my favorites and you'll find it useful with any Asian-inspired dish.
* Wine Recommendation: If you haven't tried Japanese rice wine or sake then this is the perfect time to ask your wine merchant for a recommendation. Serve it either hot or cold in tiny Japanese sake cups.

If that's anywhere near what you're thinking you could try finding a Wolfgang's. I know you said you didn't want to do it at home but if you modified the recipe a little (frying the chicken) I bet you could get a good result. Sometimes you just got to do it yourself

tiki
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Re:"Micro-regional" Chinese dish - Wed, 10/21/09 10:34 AM
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i have eaten it at Chef Chu's!!---boy do i miss that place!! Wonderful food---and Chef Chu is a sweetheart of a guy--my bro and sis in law turned me on to his place many years ago and it bacame a favorite when we went to the Peninsula to visit. They gave me a copy of his cookbook for Christamas one year--took it with me the next time we ate there and he not only signed it but sopent about 20 mins with us and bought us all appetizers. Have to check his palce out next trip back to the coast this spring!

rainyday6
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Re:"Micro-regional" Chinese dish - Wed, 10/21/09 8:57 PM
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Tiki, my brother has a place next door, Armadillo Willy's.  And behind that is a great Mexican place, Estralita's.  Have you tried those?  I love Chef Chu's, my copy of the cookbook has seen better days.  I can't find egg rolls like his anywhere.  At least the ones in the cookbook.  He's a cutie, too :p  The salad recipe is in my cookbook, not sure about your edition. 

Not very far away in Sunnyvale is Tao Tao cafe.  I think they make the best version of the salad.  They also have a very unique dish called Tao Tao Beef.  It's like crack, seriously lol  The bartender makes a Mai Tai strong enough to get you seriously f'd up.  175 South Murphy St.  There is the biggest concentration of great places to eat on that short block than anywhere I've ever been. 

rainyday6
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Re:"Micro-regional" Chinese dish - Wed, 10/21/09 9:02 PM
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ETR - that sounds really good, but I have made the other at home, many many times.  That's how I know how time consuming and messy it is.  I always make a mess when I deep fry.  I gotta run, but I'll come back later and post my version of it.    

quijote
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Re:"Micro-regional" Chinese dish - Wed, 10/21/09 10:36 PM
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rainyday6


This has been driving me nuts since I moved to Sacramento from the SF Bay area.  There is a particular chicken salad that as far as I know, is limited to the area between Palo Alto and San Jose.  I obtained the recipe decades ago but frankly, it's time consuming and messy to make at home.  I'm just wondering if there are other areas of the country where it may have become popular.  It involves deep fried chicken, deep fried rice noodles, cilantro, nuts, sesame, cilantro, green onions and seasoned with Coleman's dry mustard, sesame oil and five spice powder.  It's very unique and the only places I know that still serve it are Mings in Palo Alto, Chef Chu's in Los Altos and Tao Tao cafe in Sunnyvale.  If you look up reviews of those places on Yelp.com, you will see lots of references to how wonderful it is.
 
So - has anyone heard of this outside the Bay? 

 
I haven't run into that outside the Bay Area, but I know what you're talking about: I grew up in that area, and one of our favorite places was House of Lee in Mountain View. Great food in general, great chicken salad.


rainyday6
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Re:"Micro-regional" Chinese dish - Thu, 10/22/09 1:04 AM
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Is this it?   http://www.yelp.com/biz/china-wok-mountain-view  Changed names, I think.

So here is the recipe:

Break apart and deep fry 1-2 oz dried rice noodles just til they puff and turn white.  Drain on paper towels.  Coat 3 chicken breast halves or 1 half chicken, skin and bones intact, with cornstarch.  Rinse first so cornstarch sticks well.  Deep fry until skin is DEEP golden brown and hard/crispy.  Don't worry about overcooking the chicken.  Drain on paper towels.

While chicken cools, place half a head of shredded iceberg lettuce, patted dry (one bag of Fresh Express "Shreds" works perfectly), to one side of large serving bowl.  Top with desired amount of cilantro (I use a lot, about a whole bunch; start with half a bunch), cleaned, patted dry and chopped coarsely, and 4-5 lengthwise finely slivered green onions (scallions), in about 2 inch lengths.

Toast 3 Tablespoons sesame seeds til light brown (oven or skillet) don't burn.  Toss with 1/2 cup of chopped salted cashews.

Mix 2 Tablespoons each:  water, toasted sesame oil and Coleman's powdered hot mustard (NO substitutions)

When chicken is still warm but cool enough to handle, shred into bite size pieces, including skin.  Discard bones.  Place opposite lettuce in bowl.  Top with mustard mixture and toss gently to coat chicken only.  Then toss chicken with produce, gently several times.  Sometimes I add a little bit more sesame oil at this point, but it's really meant to be a "dry" salad.  After you make it once, you'll know what you want to change/add to suit your tastes.

Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt, toss gently again.  Taste and add more salt if desired.  Top with rice noodles, crushing down slightly.  Top noodles with sesame seed/nut mixture and serve, scooping up topping and salad.  Or you can toss it all together at the very last minute.  Does not keep more than a few hours and does not refrigerate well.

--Oil for deep frying
--lots of paper towels
--cornstarch
--dried rice noodles
--1/2 fryer or 3 chicken breasts, skin and bone intact
--iceberg lettuce, finely shredded
--1 bunch cilantro
--green onions (scallions)
--toasted (golden) sesame oil
--Coleman's dry mustard (yellow tin)
--sesame seeds
--salted cashews
--Chinese five-spice powder
--salt 
<message edited by rainyday6 on Thu, 10/22/09 1:07 AM>

EatingTheRoad
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Re:"Micro-regional" Chinese dish - Thu, 10/22/09 9:46 AM
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Certainly sounds good. If you get a chance try the Wolfgang Puck's Chinese Chicken Salad (from the restaurant) and see if it comes anywhere near what you're looking for.   

tiki
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Re:"Micro-regional" Chinese dish - Thu, 10/22/09 5:08 PM
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rainyday6


Tiki, my brother has a place next door, Armadillo Willy's.  And behind that is a great Mexican place, Estralita's.  Have you tried those?  I love Chef Chu's, my copy of the cookbook has seen better days.  I can't find egg rolls like his anywhere.  At least the ones in the cookbook.  He's a cutie, too :p  The salad recipe is in my cookbook, not sure about your edition. 




Havent been to either---but i will!!! next time out ther ---this spring---tell me--is Late for the Train still operating--LOVED the old location by the tracks in Menlo Park-WONDERFUL Early am breakfast and coffee!!-but the new place is still great--or was last time i was there.I will lety you know when i am coming thryough ans we should meat for lunch in Sac!!!--got a bass player buddy there to check on--John Seymore.

rainyday6
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Re:"Micro-regional" Chinese dish - Thu, 10/22/09 9:38 PM
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ETR - if they don't have it at the WP express here at the convention center, I think he has a place in Palo Alto and I'm going down there next month.  Otherwise, I'll make it myself and let you know how it comes out!

Tiki -  are you talking about "Mikes Cafe"?  It has good reviews.  I read it used to be LFTT, so apparantly that's been closed for awhile now.  Does your buddy have a gig when you'll be here?  Yeah, let's meet and chow and take pics of our food LOL.  Are you driving?  If you take the train, there's lots of stuff within walking distance of Amtrak.  I could possibly be in the south Bay as well, perhaps we can go to Chef Chu's and stuff ourselves with Chick salad.

Angelalala
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Re:"Micro-regional" Chinese dish - Fri, 02/3/12 3:48 AM
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I have been looking for this Tao Tao chicken salad recipe FOREVER (it seems)...found this post and made it last weekend....Spot-on the original!!! My husband grew up going to Tao Tao and I was introduced to it around 1994 and fell in love with their food (and Mai Tai..or Moy Tai as the bartender called it). As soon as I tasted this salad I was on a quest to make it at home but something was always a bit off until I found your post.  Thank you so much! Now all I need to figure out is how to make the Tao Tao Beef (the obsession continues...) ;-)