Sunday, July 24, 2011

Spicy Cold Noodles with Chicken Slivers

Cold noodles are wonderful on a hot summer day.  Up until now Cold Sesame Noodles and variations on Asian-style peanut noodles have been our go-to.  This is our first attempt at making this recipe, but I think it's a keeper.  I felt like it was something I would be happy eating at a restaurant.  I liked the juicy poached chicken that was shredded on top and the surprise of the bean sprouts at the bottom of the bowl.  All of the flavors melded together very nicely once you mixed the noodles up.  There was a hint of heat from the Sichuan peppercorns and the chili oil, a burst of freshness from the scallions and the nutty savory flavor of the sesame paste.  It was just really refreshing and a little complex.  Some peanut and sesame-based sauces are so dominated by the flavor of the sesame paste and/or peanut butter, but this sauce was nicely balanced.  Alex liked that the recipe was fairly easy to make.  You could really make it a one pot meal if you want (poach the chicken, then cook the noodles in the poaching liquid, and then add a little more water to blanch the bean sprouts).  It takes a little longer that way, but it cuts down on the clean up.  While the ease of cooking is nice, my favorite thing about the noodles was the fact that I can easily picture eating them in a restaurant.  They probably wouldn't be my favorite thing on the menu, but they would be a totally solid dish that I would order when the urge struck.

P.S.  I know this is like my billionth post of the weekend.  But we were really in a groove this weekend with new recipes, so get excited because we have a few more to post...

Recipe after the jump

Spicy Cold Noodles with Chicken Slivers
Adapted from Land of Plenty
By Fuchsia Dunlop

1 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast
about 1/2 lb fresh Chinese noodles, Shanghai-style, a little thicker than spaghetti
1 1/2 tbsp peanut oil
3 oz bean sprouts
4 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
2 tbsp sesame paste, thinned with 1 tbsp water
1 1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp Chinkiang or black Chinese vinegar
1 tbsp white sugar
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp ground roasted Sichuan peppercorns
2-3 tbsp chili oil with chili flakes
1 tbsp sesame oil

Fill a small saucepan half full with water, add salt and bring to a rolling boil over high heat.  Drop in the chicken breasts.  When the water starts bubbling at the edges of the pan, remove the pan from the heat and cover tightly.  Let stand covered for 20 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the pan.  When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred with your fingers (or a fork) into thin pieces.  Put the chicken in a large bowl and let cool to room temperature.

Cook the noodles in plenty of boiling water until they are just al dente - take care not to overcook them.  Rinse them with hot water, shake them in a colander and quickly spread them out to dry.  Sprinkle over the peanut oil and mix it in with the chopsticks to prevent the noodles from sticking together.

Blanch the bean sprouts for a few seconds in boiling water, then refresh in cold water.  Drain well.  Combine sesame paste, soy, vinegar, sugar, garlic, Sichuan peppercorns, chili oil and sesame oil in a small bowl.

When the noodles and bean sprouts are completely cold, lay the bean sprouts in the bottom of your servings bowl or bowls.  Add noodles.  Pour dressing over noodles.  Top noodles with chicken and scallions.


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