On a weeknight recently, I realized that I had not planned a damn thing for dinner. And we were out of milk, half and half and bread. I had to make the dreaded mid-week grocery run. Ugh. I really, really hate that but sometimes it’s absolutely necessary.
So I popped into my local Publix and went straight to the “Aprons Recipes“ desk. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this, Publix supermarkets have a little cooking station near the front of the store. Someone actually stands there and preps and prepares an entire meal for shoppers to sample. All of the ingredients for the recipe are in a small cooler right next to the station. I’ve gone in and simply grabbed the card and all of the ingredients many times as you can usually get in and out of the store in less than five minutes. Anyway, the featured dish of the day actually didn’t appeal to me but there was one on the shelf for Chicken Street Noodles that looked pretty good. And I had most ingredients on hand already so I only had to pick up a couple of things. I followed the recipe exactly (as I usually do the first time I make something) and it was a hit with both my boys but we agreed it could be improved upon.
The one thing that I loved about it was that it was rich without being heavy. I served it with the suggested cucumber salad with a rice wine vinaigrette and it was actually pretty summery and refreshing. But both Chef J and I thought we could make it better by cranking up the grill! Tis the season after all!
So the next time we decided to make this, I started in the morning by marinating some chicken thighs. I did this meal on a Sunday night but if you marinate your chicken before you leave for work in the morning, this could also be a pretty quick weeknight meal. You’d just have to chop your veggies and boil the water while the chicken and cabbage are grilling. That said, my version of the recipe uses a lot more veggies than the original so it ends up making a ton of food. We had enough, not only for our dinner, but for lunch for me and the neighbor for Monday.
A lot of flavor and texture is added with the fresh chopped herbs, almost a cup of them, so don’t skimp. I’m afraid this just won’t be the same without so maybe it’s time to plant that little herb garden in those pots gathering dust in the garage.
Summery Asian Noodles
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 C sweet chili sauce
- 2 T brown sugar
- 1/4 C rice vinegar
- 2 T low sodium soy sauce
- 3 T sesame oil, divided
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breasts)
- 1 small head bok choy or napa cabbage, cut in half lengthwise
- 12 oz whole wheat spaghetti (or soba noodles)
- 3/4 C coconut milk (save the rest, you may need it later)
- 1 T sesame oil
- 1/2 C shredded carrots (I was lazy and bought “matchsticks”)
- 1/2 C finely sliced red or sweet onion
- 1/2 C finely sliced yellow or red bell pepper
- 1/4 C Thai basil, sliced into thin strips (full disclosure – these pics show Italian basil, couldn’t find Thai)
- 1/4 C fresh, chopped cilantro leaves
- 1/4 C fresh, chopped scallions
- 1 lime, cut in half (one half for juice, the other half cut into wedges for garnish)
- 1/4 C unsalted peanuts, chopped
Whisk together garlic, chili sauce, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and 2 T sesame oil. Put half of the mixture in a container for later use.
Place chicken pieces in a large zipper bag and pour remaining half of the marinade over it, making sure all pieces are well coated. Allow chicken to marinate at least a few hours but overnight if possible.
Preheat grill to medium high. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. Place marinated chicken over heat and cook, turning occasionally, until cooked through, about 4-7 minutes per side depending on thickness. Remove from grill and set aside. When cool enough to handle, slice into thin strips.
Spray grill with non-stick cooking spray. Add cabbage halves to grill, flat side down. Rotate and turn periodically so it doesn’t burn, until lightly charred. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, slice into thin strips about two inches long.
Bring water to boil for pasta. Salt generously. Cook pasta according to package directions, but stop cooking at least two minutes before suggested cooking time. You want it a little firmer than al dente. Drain and set aside.
Mix the reserved marinade with coconut milk.
Heat 1 T sesame oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add sliced onion, carrots and peppers and saute, stirring very often, until slightly softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and stir in coconut milk mixture and continue to cook for 2 – 3 minutes or until slightly reduced and thickened. Add in sliced chicken and cabbage and heat for another 2 – 3 minutes. Add in pasta and toss to mix well. I found that mine wasn’t quite saucy enough at this point so I stirred in more coconut milk. Add basil, cilantro and scallions and continue tossing to combine, about 1 minute until pasta is desired tenderness. Add juice of half a lime. Garnish with chopped peanuts and serve with lime wedges (and maybe a healthy squeeze of Sriracha!).
This is great served with a cucumber salad with a rice wine vinaigrette. The quick and dirty recipe is this: Whisk together in a salad bowl 1 T sesame oil, 2 T rice wine vinegar, 1 t brown sugar, a pinch of chile flakes and a small handful of chopped cilantro. Slice English cucumber lengthwise and remove seeds. Slice into 1/2 inch thick half moons and add to salad bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup very thinly sliced red or sweet onion. Toss to combine and set aside while you put together your pasta. Easy and quick and so refreshing.