This recipe is a spinoff from one of my favorite chicken salad recipes – Chinese Chicken Salad.
I was first introduced to Chinese Chicken Salad when I worked at the International Branch of Seattle First National Bank (long ago devoured by Bank of America) during the 70s. In those days break/lunch rooms at most of the SFNB branches were fully functioning kitchens complete with full scale stoves, refrigerators, microwaves, dishwashers, and everything you needed to prepare a simple meal. And my branch was no exception. It was wonderful. We could actually cook a lunch for ourselves, which I very often did.
And among our 18 or so employees, we had several very gifted Asian cooks. And because of our location (5th and Jackson in Seattle’s International district), we had our choice of a number of large and small grocery stores (including Uwajimaya) within a block or two of the branch. So it was not uncommon to take off at the beginning of our lunch break, buy whatever ingredients appealed, and still have time to prepare a delicious lunch. Then every once in a while, one of our Asian ladies would take up a collection and fix something delightful, like Chinese Chicken Salad, for everyone to enjoy. Those were some of the best meals I ever experienced, and a wonderful way for me to expand my knowledge of food preparation. And oh the smells that wafted out into the lobby. I’m sure there were times when our customers thought they had mistakenly wondered into a restaurant rather than a money changing establishment. But no one ever complained, so we continued until it was deemed unprofessional for our lobby to smell like the alley behind a first class Chinese restaurant! (Sometimes upper management just has no sense of humor!)
No wonder older people, like myself, talk about the “good old days”. Coffee at our desks all day long, cigarettes at our desks (if we so chose) and after closing at 6:00 on Friday nights – time to celebrate the end of another work week with food and drink. One of the officers would pop out for beer, wine, and snacks. Our branch manager would unlock his liquor cabinet, and everyone would have a drink and hang around until all the tellers balanced, the general ledger/branch was in balance and the vault was closed. Good times my friends. Really good times!
And along with the freedom we experienced to run our own branch in the 70s, before customers were given the more pretentious moniker of “client”, we employees (now commonly referred to as “associates”) actually understood the business of banking. In fact, many of us knew how to run the branch, from balancing the general ledger to making loans, both the decision making part and the preparation of the associated legal documents. But the best part of being a banker in the 70s; we had the authority to make decisions that affected our customers. We didn’t have to send them anywhere else for problem resolution or to obtain a loan. We were the resolution and loan departments! And no one questioned us if we forgave an overdraft fee, or excused a late fee, or took the time to counsel a young person on how and what to do to qualify for an auto loan. It was in our job description to provide excellent customer service. And although I enjoyed my entire 32 years with the bank, those years at International Branch were the most enjoyable of my entire banking career. Plus I learned many valuable cooking techniques and how to prepare several of my all time favorite dishes. Work just doesn’t get any better than that! Thank you Bill, Karl, Mary, May, Bernie, the 2 Katys, Cindy, Adah, Mela, Adelle, Florence, and my good friend Dodie for all the wonderful memories I hold so dear from the years we spent together.
And to my readers, I hope you enjoy this recipe. BTW, all you have to do to make this recipe into Chinese Chicken Salad – you guessed it – add some lightly sauteed cubed chicken breast meat. Ta-da…….
- ¼ c. vegetable oil
- 2 T. sesame oil
- 4 tsp. white vinegar (the regular old fashioned distilled kind)
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice (the kind that comes from real fruit)
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 head iceberg lettuce, finely sliced
- 1 small head Napa cabbage, finely sliced
- ¾ c. finely shredded carrots
- 4 green onions, cut in very thin diagonal slices
- 1-2 T. finely minced ginger root (depends on how much you like ginger root)
- 1/3 c. lightly toasted slivered almonds
- 1/3 c. lightly toasted sesame seeds
Whisk together the oils, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper. Toss the lettuce, cabbage, carrots, green onions, and ginger root together. Just before serving add the almonds, sesame seeds, and enough salad dressing to lightly coat the veggies. Serve immediately.