Thursday, January 07, 2010

Caesar Salad with Chicken and Croutons

Caesar Salad with Chicken and Croutons 1

Caesar salad was something that I never thought much about until one day long ago, back when I used to live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I met up with a friend at a pub in the Piedmont area of Oakland. A bit of Googling turned up Cato's Ale House, which claims to be the only pub in Piedmont, so that must've been it. I haven't been back since, and the salad may well have been spectacular only in memory, but I can still recall that it was served with whole leaves with a knife for me to cut into. The dressing was made in-house, garlicky and salty and just right.

Years later, I adapted a recipe from Allrecipes that reminded me of that salad. At 588+ reviews, Karen Weir's Caesar Salad Supreme had to be good. Now, I know some people insist on anchovies (I'm one of them.), but did you know that according to Wikipedia, the original Caesar salad didn't have anchovies? The slight anchovy flavor came from the use of Worcestershire sauce. The other flavor that comes through Worcestershire sauce is tamarind so when MomGateway, host of the apple roundup of Weekend Wokking, chose TAMARIND as the secret ingredient, it was time for me to dust off my old recipe. The other must, raw or coddled egg yolks, I prefer to replace with mayonnaise for the creaminess without the salmonella scares.

I had thought Caesar salad was an American invention. Later, I found out its creator, Caesar Cardini was an Italian-Mexican, who made up the salad in Tijuana, Mexico. I bookmarked the location for a future visit, but the poor economy forced the restaurant's closure last year. :(

I guess my version will just have to do.

Caesar Salad with Chicken and Croutons 2

Caesar Salad with Chicken and Croutons
Adapted from Karen Weir's Caesar Salad Supreme,

For about 1 cup of dressing, you'll need:
2-oz tin anchovies (Anchovies are strong and very salty, so start with only a few fillets if you're not used to them.)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 to 1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tblsp Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Serve with:
Any kind of baked chicken if you wish, but in these photos is my Peruvian Roast Chicken
Croutons with Garlic and Seasoning

A 2-oz flat of anchovy fillets may be a bit much for some people. Know your tolerance. If you don't know, then I suggest starting with only a few anchovies at a time. You can always add more, but it's hard to remove them once they're already minced and in the dressing.

Caesar Salad with Chicken and Croutons 3

Me? I use the whole can.

Now, the trick with this recipe is not to mince the anchovies too much or else they'll overpower the dressing. Use a food processor or blender and the minced anchovies will become anchovy paste. Blech! Not too much, not too little. You don't want big pieces of anchovies when you bite into your salad either.

Peel and thinly slice 3 cloves of garlic. Then lay the anchovy fillets on top.

Caesar Salad with Chicken and Croutons 4

Give it a quick mince in one direction.

Caesar Salad with Chicken and Croutons 5

Then another quick mince in a perpendicular direction. Just right.

Caesar Salad with Chicken and Croutons 6

Place the mixture in a jar and add 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 to 1/3 cup lemon juice, 2 tblsp Parmesan cheese, 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, and 1 tsp Dijon mustard.

Mix thoroughly until mayonnaise is incorporated. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Serve drizzled over romaine lettuce adding chicken or croutons if you wish.

Caesar Salad with Chicken and Croutons 7

Then I cut up the salad, but it still didn't look right.

Caesar Salad with Chicken and Croutons 8

Oh! Forgot the croutons. Now, it looks right.

Caesar Salad with Chicken and Croutons 9

This recipe has been sitting in my queue since May 2007. I know! You could've had my recipe that much sooner, except I just wasn't happy with the photo below. My, my. How far I've come in 2 1/2 years of blogging. Sure both salads still taste just as good, but visually, it's far more appealing now than then.

Caesar Salad with Chicken and Croutons 10


I'm submitting this recipe to Weekend Wokking, a world-wide food blogging event created by Wandering Chopsticks to celebrate the multiple ways we can cook one ingredient. This month's secret ingredient is TAMARIND. The host for January is Marija of Palachinka. Check her blog for the tamarind roundup with four recipes.

If you'd like to participate or to see the secret ingredient, check who's hosting next month. If you've participated in the past and would like to host, please email me.

My other tamarind recipes:
Canh Chua Ca (Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup)
Canh Chua Tom (Vietnamese Sour Shrimp Soup)
Cua Rang Muoi Tieu, Me, Gung, Hanh, Toi (Vietnamese Salt and Pepper Crab with Tamarind, Ginger, Scallions, and Garlic)
Mieng Kham (Thai Leaf-Wrapped Snack)
Sweet, Sour, Salty, Spicy Tropical Fruit Salad

1 year ago today, Vietnam Restaurant - San Gabriel.
2 years ago today, Chicken Kara-age (Japanese Fried Chicken).
3 years ago today, I ruminated upon how I never realized how rice paper can seem so complicated if you're not Vietnamese and offered up my recipe for Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Salad Rolls).


  1. Oh yeah, my Caesar dressing is also very anchovy-y... and quite garlick-y. That's the way to go! =)

  2. Before seeing your old photo, I was thinking you had some marvelous shots. I particularly like the one with the whole leaves. The light is just right. I never really connected tamarind with worchester sauce before, but now that you've mentioned it, I don't know why I didn't.

  3. The old photo was okay, just maybe a bit too high up when you took the picture of the salad. The new photos give a sense of eating at an expensive cafe :). I think I would pay 10-15 dollars for a plate of that salad.

    Like the new preparation photos taken with your new camera. Quite cool!

    Chili pepper is another hard ingredient...I don't cook with chilis that often. Maybe I'll think of something! Just got some kimchi, if that counts.

  4. TS,
    Anchovy-y & garlicky are definitely the way to go. Even if the original didn't have anchovies. Otherwise, Caesar salad just tastes so bland to me.

    Thanks! It's interesting for me to compare my photography then and now. Even though the old photo had never been posted before, it reminds me of how far I've come in learning how to present food and what angles to shoot.

    High. Centered. No Parmesan cheese. Just boring. I'll take your $10 to $15! ;)

    Chili pepper is easy for me. It's just a matter of figuring out which recipe to post! Kimchi definitely counts!

  5. That last picture looks delicious. Anchovy and garlic is definitely a nice combination. I make a mash of it and spread it on toasted bread sometimes.

    Concerning Salmonella scares, have you ever tried/considered using pasteurized eggs? I don't use them for cooking, but I use them all the time for uncooked recipes.

  6. O,
    Oooh, anchovy/garlic mash on toast sounds good. Sometimes I make the dressing pretty thick and use it to dip vegetables. Aren't all eggs pasteurized in stores? Or am I thinking of milk? I generally prefer my eggs cooked or sub with mayonnaise for ease.


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