Lighten up!

Asian chicken salad in phyllo cups, a light refreshing bite


I don’t know about where you live, but here in Washington, DC they love a holiday party. Every trade association, consulting firm, restaurant staff and non-profit throws a holiday party. By the middle of December half the city is living on a diet of hors d’oeuvres.

And none of them are light. From cheese platters to puff pastry-wrapped pieces of beef, sweet sugary cocktails and boozy eggnog, people get a bit desperate for a nice, light bite.

So, whether you up your crudités game (here are some tips) or top crostini with a mouthful of Caesar salad and half a hard-boiled quail egg, do your guests a favor and add a few refreshing hors d’oeuvres to your menu this year. They’ll make the rich stuff taste even better!

Asian Chicken Salad in Phyllo Cups

Makes 48 pieces

Once the new year rolls around I keep batches of this chicken salad in the fridge for a few weeks. It’s a quick and delicious light dinner or-take-to-work lunch.

Asian Chicken Salad:

Homemade phyllo cups with vegetable oil and Asian chicken salad
  • 2 bone in chicken breast halves
  • 6-8” fresh ginger, in 1/8” slices
  • 1/4” Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp crushed Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 tsp palm or brown sugar
  • 6 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage
  • 1/4 pound snow peas, cut in 1/4″ slivers
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro

Phyllo cups:

  • 12 sheets of phyllo, about 1/2 pound
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil plus extra for greasing mini muffin tins


  • Make phyllo cups: Grease two mini muffin tins with vegetable oil. Preheat oven to 400 F.
    Unroll sheets in a single stack. Place 1 sheet on a cutting board and cover remaining sheets with a barely damp towel. Lightly brush sheet with vegetable oil. Cut into 12 even pieces. Layer three pieces in each depression in the muffin tin. Repeat with remaining sheets until all 48 depressions are full.
  • Bake phyllo cups for 4-6 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and let phyllo cups cool for at least 10 minutes.
  • Make Asian chicken salad: Combine chicken, half of ginger and rice wine in a saucepan. Cover by 2” with water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer for 6 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let poach for 15 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
  • Meanwhile, combine remaining ginger and vegetable oil in a small pot. Warm over medium heat. When oil begins to bubble, remove from heat and let ginger steep in oil for 10 minutes. Drain and reserve oil. Discard ginger.
  • Mash garlic into a paste with coarse salt. Whisk together with peppercorns, sugar and rice wine vinegar. Whisk in ginger infused oil.
  • Remove chicken from bones, and remove skin. Chop chicken into 1/2” chunks. Toss together with Napa cabbage, snow peas and cilantro. Dress lightly with ginger vinaigrette. Reserve.
  • Fill phyllo cups with chicken salad to serve.

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