Sichuan Chili Oil, and variety of cold-chicken-based lunches
I was a major chicken salad kick this past summer, sort of. I mean, I hate mayonnaise, so my definition of chicken salad is more ‘shredded cold chicken with a bunch of really flavorful stuff mixed in’. But that works great for me!
Basically, I cook some chicken breasts on the bone, let them cool, then shred the meat. Stir in some set of add-ins, separate into pint containers for lunches for the rest of the week. I’m a protein junky, so this is basically exactly what I need when I find myself crashing in the middle of the day. Sure, technically there’s a microwave at the office, but it’s summer! I can’t possibly deal with that during the hot months.
Here are the best of the non-mayo chicken salad variations I made and ate over the summer:
- almond butter, fresh turmeric, lime juice, scallions, celery, toasted cashews
- Sichuan chili oil (recipe below), mint, fried shallots, toasted cashews, and fresh cucumber in a side tupper
- Sichuan chili oil (recipe below), kohlrabi, parsley, fried young garlic, toasted sliced almonds
- red onion, parsley, toasted walnuts, Spanish paprika, scallions, roasted red bell peppers, walnut oil, sherry vinegar
- fried summer squash (zucchini and pattypan) in lots of olive oil, fried young garlic, toasted partially smashed up hazelnuts, lots of black pepper
(Photo credit to my Mom, who recently got back from a vacation where she saw a lot of chickens running around on the beach.)
Sichuan Chili Oil
(from Fuschia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty)
1/2 C chile flakes (I generally use a combination of coarse Korean chili flakes and crushed facing heaven chiles, but you can use any kind you like, at whatever heat level you like)
2 C neutral oil (I use safflower oil, usually)
1. Put the chile flakes into a glass jar.
2. Heat the oil on the stove until it hits 225-250 F. (If you go over, just let it cool down to that range, no big deal.)
3. Pour it over the chile flakes and stir once or twice.
That’s it. It keeps basically forever, and tastes amazing on everything.
I store mine in the fridge, because I worry whenever vegetable matter is introduced into an anaerobic environment.