Chicken Salad Manifesto

Chicken salad is not usually considered “sexy”. This is lunchtime lunch, church dinner, boring baby shower or bridal shower, often under-seasoned and over-dressed. A bad chicken salad can completely exclude you from this category. But a good chicken salad? A good chicken salad can be excellent.

I eat a lot of chicken salad because I think it’s a good use for any kind of chicken leftover, and also because I like to mix protein into pickles, mayonnaise, and crunchy foods. Throughout my life with chicken salad, I have had a lot of thoughts, opinions and rules – enough to write a kind of manifesto, which I will now share with you.

Strive to expand your chicken mind. Free yourself from the thought that only poached chicken is appropriate

Poached chicken can be very good, especially if you cook it like this, but fried chicken works too (and you can brown the skin and sprinkle it on the salad to add texture and flavor). But the real underrated choice of chicken salad is the cold fried chicken left over from the meal . Unlike flabby sautéed chicken skins, which need to be re-cooked to be used in chicken salad, batter-fried chicken skins retain a fair amount of their crispness even after they’ve cooled, and these fried and breaded nuggets brighten up your chicken salad. … a manner that I can only describe as “intoxicating.” Instant chicken is your best bet here because many chains spice chicken with MSG .

Save celery for a more flavorful crunch

I don’t know how celery became the official tray of all gastronomic salads, but I know I don’t like it. Even if you enjoy celery – an emotion I’ve never experienced – you must explore other high-textured fruits and vegetables. Fennel is fun, as is a tart green apple, or even a nice soft onion or green onion. The diced pickle – not taste – brings brightness, saltiness and texture, unlike celery, which only brings a fibrous sadness with the smell of acetone. (Chopped pickled ginger is good too.) Also, have you heard of potato chips? Potato chips with salt and vinegar (or even just plain salty) are much more interesting than the stem of the sadness maker’s pale green, and I do believe that chicken salad should be addictive.

Think about the message you send with your mayonnaise

I love mayonnaise, but even it seems to me that there is such a thing as “too much”. Mayonnaise should be added in small spoons until there is enough to lightly coat the chicken and friends, and it should be good mayonnaise. Store-bought ones are fine, but feel free to treat uninspired generics with a drop of sesame oil, a squeeze of lemon, or a fish sauce cocktail. Duke’s and Kewpie are two of my favorite store-bought options, but the true chicken salad aficionado makes their own from time to time. (We have a good Duke’s dupe , but I dare you to try the chicken salad made with duck fat mayonnaise .) Also, please add some mustard; chicken salad should be a study of contrasts, and the creamy nature of mayonnaise cannot shine without a little anti-acidity.

Eat fish and eggs

Unsurprisingly, I sometimes add monosodium glutamate to my chicken salad, but you might be shocked to learn that I don’t do this very often. Instead, I rely on anchovy paste, fish sauce and dried egg yolk to bring the much needed umami.

If you want to expand, you can even use shrimp paste , shredded blue cheese , canned lemons, or some Chinese olive vegetables , but you need something very salty and unusual. This is the key that keeps people coming back for more. (Funky chicken isn’t quite right, and don’t let your dance hobby tell you otherwise.)

You’ve got nothing to lose but your knives

I can’t remember the last time I made chicken salad with a knife. The chicken is ripped from the bones, and that’s all – even whole pickles! – thrown into a large bowl and chopped with kitchen scissors . This does not produce the most uniform salad, but it is fairly uniform. If you want a finer texture, you can knead the whole thing with a pastry mold. No need to use a knife and cutting board.

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