Smoked Chicken Salad with Tea Vinaigrette
Here a boldly flavored Chinese Yunnan tea is used in an oil-free dressing to add depth of flavor to this main dish salad. Water chestnuts add crunch and the ripe pears and dried currants provide a sweet counterpoint to the smokiness of the chicken. For a brief moment in late summer or early fall, fresh tiny champagne grapes are available. They make an elegant touch to this dish, or use the dried currants as noted. Great for lunch or a light supper.

Tea Dressing
1 cup/250 milliliters apple juice
1 tablespoon/14 grams Yunnan black tea leaves
1 teaspoon/5 milliliters Dijon-style mustard
1/2 cup/120 milliliters buttermilk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Salad
1 pound/500 grams smoked chicken breasts (store-bought or you can smoke you own)
1 cup/140 grams water chestnuts, well drained and sliced
2 ripe but firm Bosc pears (or other firm variety), peeled, then silvered
1 cup/140 grams dried currents, soaked in hot water or tea for five minutes and then drained
1 head of butter lettuce, washed and dried well, or 1 small head of Napa cabbage, thinly sliced

Bring the apple juice to a boil. Add the tea leaves and let steep for about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve and place in a bowl. Cool. Blend the mustard and buttermilk, and then gradually add the cooled apple juice-infused tea. Add salt and pepper to taste. (A generous amount of black pepper is a nice added touch.)

Slice the chicken into long thin strips. Combine with the water chestnuts, pears, and currants. Coat with half of the dressing. Place on a bed of butter lettuce or shredded Napa cabbage. Pour the remaining dressing over each salad and serve immediately. Yields 4 portions.

This recipe is part of the book Cooking with Tea by Robert Wemischner and Diana Rosen.
Photography by Sysan Bourgoin

Click here for printable version.


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