Need a cold summer dish for dinner? This Shredded Chicken and Cucumber with Sesame Dressing is my take on the flavorful Chinese dish. Dark chicken meat, refreshing cucumber and chewy noodles coated in this creamy and nutty sesame sauce. Good as an appetizer or side dish.
When it’s a scorching summer day, don’t you want to eat something cold for dinner? I definitely have that moment every summer. And this would be the exact dish that you will need to try!
I had this dish a few times when I was in Hong Kong growing up. It’s a dish that you can only find in certain restaurants. But I can’t really remember what kind of restaurants. I don’t even know which region this Chinese dish comes from. I asked my parents and they are not sure either. We think it’s probably Shanghai or Shangdong. Let me know if you know. Anyhow, this dish made a big impression even after many years. It stood out because it was cold and coated with tasty sesame dressing.
Traditionally, this dish is called shredded chicken with green bean noodles 雞絲粉皮. But green bean noodles may be a bit hard to find and I don’t think it’s a must. The noodles themselves have no flavor. It’s more of a chewy texture. It’s nice to have, but if you don’t have any, the dish will still be good.
For the chicken, definitely go for dark meat. I used a whole chicken leg with skin and bone. Chicken thighs work too. Then poach in liquid with aromatic, like green onion and ginger. Once done, transfer to ice bath. This is not only to cool the chicken down quickly, it also helps with the texture of the skin to be firmer and more al dente. Let the chicken sit for about 15 minutes until cool enough to handle.
The best way to separate the chicken is with hands. Remove the skin (reserve) and pull the chicken into thin strips following the grains. Transfer the shredded chicken into a medium bowl and keep in the fridge. For the skin, cut them into thin strips with a knife and set them in a small bowl. Keep in the fridge as well.
Now, the sesame dressing. I’m doing a short cut by using Japanese sesame dressing. Just slightly adjust with soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, salt and sesame oil to your liking. Keep in the fridge. You want everything to be cold when serving. When it’s time to serve, toss half of the creamy and nutty sauce with the chicken and cucumber.
Plate the noodles (if using) on a serving plate, then pile on the chicken and cucumber. Next add the chicken skin. Drizzle the rest of the dressing on top and sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds. The dish is savory with a hint of sweetness. It is packed with flavors, yet you get the freshness from cucumber. I love to serve this as an appetizer or side dish. Can’t wait to hear what you guys think!
Shredded Chicken and Cucumber with Sesame Dressing
- 1 bone-in whole chicken leg (about ¾ pound)
- ½ English cucumber
- 2 ounces green bean noodles 粉皮 (optional)
- Roasted sesame seeds
- 6½ cups water
- 2 ginger slices (lightly smashed)
- 2 green onions (trimmed off the root and cut in half)
- 1½ teaspoons powdered chicken bouillon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon sugar
- 1½ teaspoons poaching liquid (after poaching)
- ¼ cup plus ½ tablespoon Japanese sesame dressing
- 1¾ teaspoons soy sauce
- ¾ teaspoon rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- Pinch of salt
- Prepare the poaching liquid. In a medium pot, bring 6½ cups water to a boil. Add ginger slices, green onions, chicken bouillon and salt. Give a quick stir. Add chicken leg and make sure it’s submerged. Cover with a lid. Reduce heat to medium. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the chicken sit for 25 – 35 minutes until cooked through. Poke the chicken meat with a chopstick. It’s cooked through if the juice runs clear. The internal temperature should be between 175˚F – 190˚F.
- Once cooked, submerge the chicken leg in an ice bath until cold, about 15 – 20 minutes. Using your hands, remove the skin from the chicken and keep in the ice bath. Shred the chicken meat into thin strips with your hands. Transfer to a medium bowl. Cut the chicken skin into thin strips and transfer to a small bowl. Keep everything in the fridge.
- In the meantime, work on the dressing. In a small bowl, stir together sugar, poaching liquid, sesame dressing, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and salt until combined. Chill in the fridge.
- Rinse and pat dry the cucumber. Cut diagonally into ¼-inch slices, then cut into thin strips. Transfer to a small bowl and keep in the fridge.
- Just before serving, get the noodles ready (if using), bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold tap water until cool. Drain again and cut into thin strips if needed.
- Get everything out of the fridge. Add half of the dressing into the chicken and toss well. Add the cucumber and toss again.
- To assemble, prepare a large serving plate. Place the noodles at the bottom, then chicken and cucumber. Add the chicken skin on top. Drizzle the rest of the dressing on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve cold.
- I used one whole chicken leg (almost 1 pound). You can use bone-in chicken thighs and/or drumsticks too.
- Make sure the chicken is cooked before putting into ice bath. If the chicken is not done, put back into the poaching liquid. Turn on the heat to medium and bring back to a simmer. Then turn off the heat and poach for 5 – 10 more minutes. Keep the lid on at all time.
- Green bean noodles (粉皮) give the dish some chewy textures and starch, but you can skip it if you can’t find any. I got mine from a Chinese supermarket. Mine comes in a large round sheet, so I have to cut them into thin strips after cooking. But you maybe able to find ones that are already cut into strips, which saves one extra step. The noodles may dry out a bit if not using immediately, so I recommend cooking the noodles right before serving.
- The Japanese sesame dressing I used is from Kewpie. It’s rich and creamy. You can try other brands too, but you may need to adjust the seasoning a little. You can easily get them from Asian supermarkets or online.