By now you all know how much I love butter. I am neither a stranger to, nor a critic of, rich food. Duck fat and cheese is the way to (and probably a majority of the make-up of) my heart.
I will say, however, that after the holidays I find myself a little burned out on the heaviness of holiday meals. The cure for post-caloric overload? A big fresh bowl of asian-flavored herby goodness. Switch it up a little, we are exciting people. I also refuse to buy new pants so when they start to get tight it’s time to cut back.
I think “detoxing” is a load of hippy-dippy bullshit and you won’t catch me doing any kind of “cleanse” but I do appreciate this dish for being a reboot of sorts. The freshness and acidity (as well as the asian flavors) are such a 180 from the richness of holiday fare that I find it serves well as a much-needed reset. Plus it’s easy, fast, and even better as leftovers.
- 1 package rice noodles (If you’re one of my gluten-intolerant friends, check your package ingredients. Every so often a brand gets sneaky and adds some gluten in there, but most don’t. Good old gluten free by nature.)
- 2 tablespoons soy
- 6 tablespoons fish sauce (REMEMBER, NO SNIFFING)
- 2 heaping tablespoons chili-garlic paste (this is very much according to personal preference, I like it hot)
- 1 large handful each of chopped mint, cilantro, thai basil, and green onions (green tops only)
- 1 cup snow peas
- 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 large carrots, julienned
- 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
- 1 cup mushrooms (I used oyster mushrooms)
- Chinese five-spice powder
- Kosher salt
- Pickle the carrot and red onion and refrigerate. I’ve outlined the method for this before in my post “The Off-baste Bowl.”
- Sprinkle the chicken breasts liberally with the five-spice powder and kosher salt.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven (400°F) for 10-15 minutes or until the internal temperature registers 165°F. Remember to allow it to rest after cooking before slicing, unless you happen to like dry-as-the-fucking-Sahara chicken.
- Place the noodles in a large, heat-proof bowl.
- Boil enough water to cover the noodles (I don’t measure this, but it’s probably 4-5 cups), and pour it over the noodles in the bowl. Let stand until the water has cooled enough to handle the bowl and the noodles are cooked-through and softened (5 minutes), drain.
- While the noodles are cooling down, mix together the fish sauce, soy, and chili-garlic paste. Set aside.
- Lightly steam the snow peas (or leave them raw- whatever you like).
- Chop the mushrooms into bite-sized pieces and brown over medium heat with the white parts of your green onions. I used about a tablespoon of butter to brown them in, but you could also use olive oil or canola.
- Assembly time. Toss the noodles with the sauce, snow peas, mushrooms, and chopped herbs. Top with sliced chicken breast and pickled veggies and voila, dinner.
I swear this only gets better the longer it sits. It would make a great make-ahead meal for a party or this week’s lunches. I ate it for lunch the next few days and loved it every time. I originally served it at room temperature, but it’s just as good as a cold noodle salad.
My favorite part is the herbs. Each bite has a burst of fresh flavor and texture. I usually think of mint as a sweet-food herb, but I find that it adds a really delicious twist to asian food. I was worried that all the different herbs would clash, but they actually worked really well together.
This dish is also very customizable. Throw in whatever fresh veggies you like. Not pictured are some baby bok choy and broccoli that I steamed and added in. Really any veggies would be great here, but I think bell peppers would be a particularly great addition.
After my holiday binges this really hit the spot. In the future, I think adding a squeeze or two of fresh lime juice to the sauce and some chopped roasted peanuts on top would amp it up even a little more. As is it was cheap, quick, and tasty. A win in my book.