Ahhh, chicken salad… our default way of dealing with unwanted chicken breast meat. That might come as a surprise for you readers in the U.S. but, in Asia, we do prefer dark chicken meat. So, whenever we have rotisserie whole chicken, home roasted or store-bought, the breast often gets left on the serving plate. Nine times out of ten, it becomes chicken salad the next day.
When I was a kid, there was often chicken salad in a Tupperware container in the fridge. Need an after-school snack? Scoop the chicken salad and slap on bread. If it wasn’t chicken salad, it was cheese pimiento. If we weren’t so lucky, there was always egg fried sunny side up.
Now, my mother wasn’t into cooking. She had her strong points (she got me started on books and music) but I don’t think she ever felt at home in the kitchen — not even in her own kitchen.
But chicken salad and cheese pimiento, she knew how to make. She made chicken salad pretty much the same way the Japanese make their egg salad. No frills. Just mayo and seasoning. For kids, it was a feast because there were no pieces of vegetables to pick and pile on the side of the plate. That was how my brother dealt with vegetables as a child.
But children grow up, we managed to outgrow our abhorrence for vegetables, and by the time I was making chicken salad for my daughters, chopped vegetables were a mainstay. What can I say? Colors add visual appeal while the crunch of raw vegetables prevents the chicken salad from having a one-dimensional texture.
Aside from adding chopped vegetables, I have two other rules for making chicken salad:
- I use well-seasoned roasted or grilled chicken as it tastes and smells better than boiled.
- I prefer chopping the chicken meat rather than shredding it (with some recipes, shredded is more appropriate but not in the case of chicken salad).
Not my mother’s chicken salad sandwich
- 2 cups chopped cooked chicken meat preferably roasted or grilled
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- ¼ cup finely sliced celery
- ¼ cup chopped bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
- salt start with half a teaspoon
- pepper start with an eighth of a teaspoon
- mayo we use Kewpie Japanese mayo but this is not a sponsored post
- toasted mini baguettes
- sliced scallions
- Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and add a quarter cup of mayo. Toss well.
- If the mixture appears too dry, stir in more mayo, no more than two tablespoons at a time, until you have a nice and moist salad.
- Taste. Add more salt and pepper, if needed.
- Chill for at least two hours.
- Check if the salad appears dry. The chicken soaks up the mayo and you may need to stir in a little more.
- Split your toasted baguettes and stuff with the chicken salad. Sprinkle with scallions and serve.