Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Chicken Soba Salad

The inspiration for this salad came from a salad that I love at a restaurant in NYC called Soba Nippon.  I have been there twice in the past month and every time I go I order this salad.  They top a salad of soba noodles, lettuce, cabbage, onions, carrots, dried seaweed, and crispy noodles with shredded, steamed chicken breast and this amazing Asian sesame dressing.  I like to pretend that the salad is totally healthy for me, but most salads are nowhere near as healthy as you think they are.  At the very least, the salad from Soba Nippon is delicious.  One of my favorite things about this salad is that it is both light and hearty at the same time.  One of the worst things about eating salad is that I get hungry again about an hour later.  Actually, I have the same problem with sushi.  But I feel like the soba noodles in this salad make the whole salad more filling without detracting from the lightness of the salad.  I knew we couldn't duplicate the salad exactly, but I figured we could put together a tasty and reasonably healthy facsimile.

This method for roasting chicken breasts is one of my absolute favorites (and Alex's too).  The chicken is so flavorful and juicy.  It would be delicious on top of any salad, or stuffed in any sandwich.  It makes this soba salad really sing.  All of the ingredients would be delicious on their own, but when combined they are delicious.  I think that some shelled edamame and/or some snow peas would also be delicious additions to the salad.  While this salad is not a perfect approximation of the one served at Soba Nippon, it sure was a really nice dinner.

Recipe after the jump!

Chicken Soba Salad

For chicken:
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
1 tbsp peanut oil
For dressing:
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
2 scallions, whites and greens, thinly sliced on the bias
For salad:
7 oz. soba noodles
1 tsp sesame oil
5 oz. spring greens
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup red onion, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced and soaked in salted cold water for 15 minutes
 (it cuts down on the bite of raw onion)
1/2 cup crispy chow mein noodles
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Rinse the chicken and pat dry.  Season the chicken breasts liberally with s&p.  Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet (or other heavy, oven-safe skillet) over medium to medium-high heat.  Add peanut oil.  Once oil is hot, place chicken in the skillet skin-side down.  Brown for about 5 minutes.  Turn the chicken over and place skillet in oven.  Roast chicken for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool the chicken on a cutting board until you can handle it, about 15 minutes.  Cut the breasts off the bone and slice chicken into 1/2-inch thick slices.  Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, sesame oil, sesame seeds, ginger, and red pepper flakes.  Pour grapeseed oil into bowl while whisking to form an emulsion.  Add scallions and stir to combine.  Set aside.

Cook soba noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to package instructions.  Drain.  Rinse with cold water.  Drizzle with 1 tsp sesame oil and toss noodles to keep them from sticking together. 

In a large serving bowl assemble salads with soba on the bottom, topped by greens, cabbage, carrots, onion, crispy chow mein noodles, and chicken.  Drizzle with dressing.  Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve.

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