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::asian inspiration:: Sesame Noodles & Chicken

It is no secret that I love noodles.  I would probably have them as the main feature of every dish I made if it made sense for the recipe or a waistline.  The cold sesame noodles at Wok at 16th & Walnut in Philadelphia have been my favorite find so far.  But since going to a “fancy” (read not just take out) Chinese restaurant for a $5 plate of noodles isn’t the MOST reasonable thing, lately I have settled for the cold sesame noodles from our go to Chinese take out, Chun Hing.  And by lately, I really mean we haven’t gotten Chinese take out in almost a year at this point.  Once I discovered this recipe, there was no need to get all the greasy dishes to go along with an order of sesame noodles that we could not resist.

Once again, America’s Test Kitchen‘s Cooking For Two annual did it!  I have yet to make this for just the two of us though!  It always seems to fall into the menu plan when we end up having others join us for dinner.  Luckily, it doubles easily, and it has been a hit every time!  For me, it is the perfect mix of the smooth ginger-y noodles and Wok, and the chunky spicy noodles at Chun Hing. Therefor … Perfect!  And if you have a bunch of leftover chicken – perfect use and you save a step!

What You Need

5 tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
2 Tbsp ride vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
~3 inches ginger, minced or grated
2 cloves of garlic
Hot Sauce, to taste (1/2 tsp mild, 1 tsp perfect, 3 tsp HOT)
Everything Else
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
12oz package of Lo Mein Noodles or about 2/3 lb  spaghetti (cooked in SALTED water)
2 Tbsp sesame oil
red bell pepper, cored, seeded, sliced (1/4″)
cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, sliced (1/4″)
2 carrots, peeled and grated on the large holes
bunch of scallions, sliced thin
2 Tbsp sesame seeds toasted

If you don’t already have toasted sesame seeds, start by putting them into a small skillet over medium heat and tossing until perfectly toasted.  Just be careful not to scorch them!  You could start with the sauce and get it out of the way, but if you already have all your ingredients gathered, start with the chicken, it takes the longest.  If you are using Lo Mein noodles, they only take about 4 minutes to cook, so I would have everything prepared before making those.  If you are using spaghetti, you have boiling time plus 12 minutes, so you could start your water once you get the chicken in the oven a well.

With a rack about 6″ from the heating element, heat your broiler to high.  Spray a slotted broiler pan with vegetable oil and place the chicken on top.  Broil for 10-15 minutes flipping halfway through, until the thickest part is 160F.  Once out of the oven, transfer to a cutting board and cover with foil for at least 5 minutes.  While all this is going on – you have plenty of time for everything else.

For the sauce, mix all your ingredients in a small food processor, until completely smooth.  Add hot water while running the food processor until it is the consistency of heavy cream.  This should only be about 1 Tsp to a Tbsp.

Prep all your veggies, shred the chicken, and get your noodles cooked.  Make sure to run the noodles under cold water until they are cold once finished cooking.

Combine everything into a GIANT bowl and top with the remaining toasted sesame seeds.  I still don’t own a bowl big enough for this full recipe…  Part of my  “stop-buying-kitchen-stuff-until-we-own-a-house” stubbornness.  Make sure you have enough extra space in the bowl to mix it thoroughly.  Otherwise, you will end up with one person who has all chicken and no noodles, and another that has all noodles and no chicken.  🙂

Serves: 4   Cost: $4/serving

** note – when I say this feeds four, I mean it feeds 4 people that couldn’t resist refilling their bowls.  But then again, maybe my bowls are just too small? **

What would I want to change about  this recipe?  Oh man… I cannot wait to own a mandoline.  Specifically – this one.  Why that one?  Why must I have the most expensive one I can find?  Uh – hello? Diamond cut?  Who DOESN’T need fancy peppers in their dishes?!  Besides – I inevitably grate my finger 7/10 times grating carrots.

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