Bang Bang Turkey Salad

It has been a lovely Christmas and fantastic to have Shane home from Beijing for a few days. He came bearing gifts from Shan’s MaMa who is enjoying my attempts to learn how to cook Chinese food. She took herself off to the local market with Shan and Shane and asked Shane to make himself scare so that she would be able to strike a hard bargain, without a lao wai (foreigner) present, for some of the ingredients I might need.

A treasure trove of Chinese ingredients

The haul she sent me includes Sichuan pepper (hua jiao), star anise (ba jiao), cassia bark (gui pi), wood ear fungus (hei muer), facing heaven chillies (gan la jiao), toban dijan bean paste from Pixian (dou ban jiang), sesame paste (zhi ma jiang), black fermented soy beans (dou chi), lots of Chinese garlic (da suan) and other items I haven’t quite identified yet.
I will have so much fun cooking with these ingredients over coming months and meanwhile my kitchen smells just like an Asian food market. Thank you MaMa.
Shane and Shan added some lovely Chinese serving dishes and bowls and a USB key encased in a fragment of Ming Dynasty China, a wonderful example of old meets new in today’s China.
Something special about this gift.

I love the laziness of St. Stephen’s Day with lots of left overs to be used up and not too much cooking to be done. With the year that’s in it I wanted to try out a Chinese take on the left over turkey so, to start with, here are a few variations on Bang Bang Turkey salad which you might enjoy.
The name “bang bang” comes from the Mandarin word for ‘stick’ bang a wooden stick used to beat the cooked chicken traditionally used in this dish to tenderise it so that it shreds easily. If you wish you can use a rolling pin to flatten your cooked turkey so that it shreds easily when you tear it with your hands. Chinese cooks will often serve this simple cold dish alongside other hot and more complicated dishes.
This is a very versatile cold turkey salad which you can make with whatever ingredients you have to hand. You can serve it on a simple bed of cucumber or toss some salad leaves into the mix. Or you can create a more colourful platter  by using a bed of vermicelli noodles, carrots, cucumber and even radish. If your turkey is a bit dry, moisten it with a little stock. And of course you can also use steamed chicken or left over roast chicken.
You can make up the dressing to suit taste and mood on a given day much as you would play around with a vinaigrette for salad. The ingredients for the dressing usually include soy sauce, chilli oil, ground roasted Sichuan pepper, vinegar, garlic and sesame oil. I’ve suggested a few variations below, based on recipes by Ching-He Huang, FuchsiaDunlop and The Food of China but please enjoy experimenting.
To make your ground Sichuan pepper, roast some peppercorns over a medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden and very fragrant, then grind down in a pestle and mortar. Any left over will keep for a week or so in an airtight jar.
Bang Bang Turkey – Liang Ban Huoji
Turkey Salad with Sesame Dressing


  • 1/2 – 1 cucumber
  • 1 large carrot*
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 100 g vermicelli noodles (also known as glass noodles, bean thread noodles or cellophane noodles)*
  • 1 tsp of sesame oil
  • 250 -300 g cooked turkey cut or torn into shreds
  • 2 spring onions, green part only, finely shredded
  • Toasted sesame seeds*
  • 1 medium red chilli*

1. Sesame Dressing

  • 1/2 tsp ground, roasted Sichuan pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • About 2 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chilli sauce
  • 3 tbs sesame paste/ tahini
  • 2 tbs roasted sesame oil
  • 2 1/2 tbs light soy sauce
  • 1 tbs Shaoxing rice wine (or sherry or white wine)
  • 1 tbs Chinkiang vinegar (or any Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar)
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 3 tbs turkey stock or chicken stock

2. Sesame and Peanut Dressing

  • 1/2 tsp ground, roasted Sichuan pepper
  • 2 tbs groundnut or olive oil
  • 1 tbs roasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbs sesame paste/ tahini
  • 1 tbs crunchy peanut butter
  • About 2 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs Chinkiang vinegar (or any Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar)
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

3. Spicy Sichuanese Dressing

  • 2 tbs light soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp Chinkiang vinegar (or any Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbs turkey stock or chicken stock
  • 3 – 4 tbs chilli oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground, roasted Sichuan pepper
  • 1 tsp chilli oil


  1. Slice the cucumbers lengthways and remove seeds. Cut the cucumber, and carrot if using, into to long thin julienne strips. Place the cucumber in a bowl, toss with the salt and set aside for 2o minutes. Pour off any water that has accumulated.
  2. Combine  all the sauce ingredients in a pestle and mortar or whizz in a blender until a smooth sauce with. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Prepare the noodles, if using, according to packet instructions.

To serve:

  1. Toss the noodles (if using) in sesame oil and arrange on a large platter. Arrange the cucumber on top. Place the turkey shreds on top of the cucumber.
  2. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the chicken and sprinkle with spring onions (and sesame seeds and finely chopped chilli if using).

I made this with the sesame dressing above. The dressing was tasty but we weren’t very keen on the glass noodles which we found bland. The next time I will make this with fine wheat flour noodles or spelt angel hair noodles and serve the noodles warm. I will also warm the turkey or chicken.