The Revealing, Secret Diaries of a Not-So-Secret Foodie

Merle’s Chinese Chicken Salad

Merle's Chinese Chicken Salad Garden Party

Merle’s Chinese Chicken Salad in Red Cabbage Leaf Bowl served Garden Party Style.

Ramen Noodles:   those super long noodles I first discovered in college.  The affordable, yet tasty meal in a colorful package.  My go-to dinner in a hot pot when the spending money that needed to last all month had dwindled far too low.  Some might consider them a salty lesson in budgeting, but for a foodie they were an inspiration.  This 10-cent find, with a little imagination, was transformed into the secret ingredient hidden in the next Chopped champion’s wicker basket.  Quietly awaiting it’s successful incorporation into a winning appetizer, entrée, or dessert.

When deciding which recipe to share next, it occurred to me these very same noodles had a front row seat at some very joyful events in my life.  That’s because they can be found broken in a salad that has become a family food tradition when women in my family shower a Bride-to-Be or a new Mom-in-Waiting with joyful, new beginning wishes.  For me, cooking is about sharing JOY.  So sharing this recipe is a joyful must.

Go ahead. Give Merle’s Chinese Chicken Salad a try.  You just might find yourself recalling all the good fortune you’ve received.  Besides, it’s light and easy fare that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  Pan-sear or grill the chicken, as it gives the best flavor and texture. Take the time to dry roast those sesame seeds and almonds.  The extra nuttiness it imparts is well worth the effort.  Be sure to add the dressing right before serving, to keep those noodles at their crunchy best.

I hope you like it as much as we do!  I bet you find yourself doubling the recipe because it really is that good.  On a recent rainy afternoon at the Lakehouse, a double-batch of this salad was gone in a blink.  It wasn’t served on fine china and tasted just as good when eaten off a paper plate.  And, it wasn’t only the ladies who raved about it this time. You see, it doesn’t require a fancy setting to be enjoyed– just good company.

Merle’s Chinese Chicken Salad



2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pan-seared and cubed

½ head of green cabbage, shredded

4 green onions, sliced

1 package Top Ramen Chicken-flavored Noodles, broken

2 Tablespoons sesame seeds

½ cup slivered almonds


3 Tablespoons vinegar (I like Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar)

2 Tablespoons white sugar

½ cup oil (Canola Oil works best)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ pack of the chicken-flavored seasoning foil pack from Top Ramen Noodles

Toast sesame seed and almonds on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees.  Watch closely as these will burn easily.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Combine these with broken-up Ramen Noodles. Set Aside.  Reserve the foil chicken seasoning pack. In separate bowl combine, chicken, onions and cabbage.  Toss to combine well.  Set aside until ready to serve. Make dressing by combining sugar, vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and ½ of the chicken seasoning pack from the noodles.  Mix well.

15 minutes before serving, combine all ingredients.  Toss well to coat evenly with dressing. Season with black pepper, if desired.

Note:  To lighten it up, I often double the salad portion but do NOT double the dressing. In effect, reducing the oil by half.  For variety, I often add 1/4 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil to the dressing.

The New Mr. & Mrs. Greenville, PA. August 16, 1938.

The New Mr. & Mrs. Greenville, PA. August 16, 1938.

Photo by suebthefoodie. ©, 2011.
Recipe by M. G. and shared with me by J.C.
  1. Tried your chicken salad this evening. Family loved it! I just adjusted the dressing by about doubling the vinegar. Thanks for your great cooking talents!

    • Megan, So happy to hear Merle’s Chinese Chicken Salad was a keeper for you and yours. I am curious: What type of vinegar did you choose to double? Rice Wine Vinegar is my favorite vinegar to use for this special salad. I’d like to know what you preferred. Thank you in advance for your feedback.

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