Korean-Style Chicken Salad with Pine Nut Dressing (Dak Naengchae)

While the weather is still warm, I wanted to introduce a Korean-style chicken salad called dak naengchae. Dak means chicken, and naengchae means cold salad.Pine nuts, toasted and ground, have a rich nutty flavor and also give the dressing a creamy texture. The garlic and hot mustard add robust flavors to the dressing. The acidity from the vinegar and lemon juice ties everything together, brightening the taste.

The chicken breast is boiled (poached to be exact), shredded, and combined with the dressing. Any salad vegetables are good to accompany this chicken salad. I used iceberg lettuce and radish to add some crunch and color. Cucumbers and carrots are good additions as well.

This colorful and refreshing salad will be a nice change from the typical mayonnaise-based chicken salad. I recently made it for my mother-in-law’s birthday dinner. It was a big hit! Even my teen-age niece and nephew loved it.

2 servings
Pine nut dressing:
4 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon hot mustard paste – gyeoja (or dijon if desired)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 garlic clove finely minced
salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)

Poached chicken:

1 chicken breast (about 8 oz)

1/2 small onion
1/2 stalk celery
1/2 carrot
3 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf

Salad vegetables:

1/4 iceberg lettuce

a handful spring mix
3 radishes, sliced

To make the dressing, toast the pine nuts in a pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. This will enhance the flavor. Grind the pine nuts in a blender or food processor (or finely mince them with a knife). Add the remaining dressing ingredients and blend well. Refrigerate while preparing the chicken and vegetables.

In a medium size (3 Qt) pot, bring 5 cups of water and the aromatic vegetables to a simmer over medium heat. Add the chicken breast and simmer over medium low heat for about 8 -10 minutes (increase the time if cooking more than 1 chicken breast). Remove the chicken and allow it to cool. When cool enough to handle, shred and lightly season with salt. Refrigerate while preparing vegetables.

Wash salad vegetables in ice water and drain. Cut them into desired sizes.

Combine the shredded chicken with the dressing.

Line the platter with the lettuce. Arrange the radishes and spring mix over the top of the lettuce. Place the chicken salad in the middle.

Leave a Comment



  1. Pine nut dressing, I love that!
    Pine nuts always remind me of New years…

  2. The dressing makes this a rather unique salad. I love pine nuts though they’re expensive – I’d really like to try that dressing…

  3. That pine nut dressing sounds really interesting. I love pine nuts too but they are expensive. That’s a beautiful salad!

  4. Mmm, your salad looks amazing and refreshing. Thank you for sharing! I am going to make one of your noodles dishes tonight. One day, I hope to post it with a link to your blog. 🙂

  5. Roxan, Denise and Biren – I hope you get to try this recipe. It is really good. Thank you for stopping by.

    Judy – Hope your noodle dish turned out good. Thanks for visiting.

  6. Anonymous says

    Is hot mustard 계자? The yellow hot mustard …? Can’t wait to try this delicious recipe!!:)

  7. i loved your blog and the efforts. Actually I love korean food, presently I am living korea and enjoying the moments. I also made my blog. Please see: