Spicy Rice Noodles with Chicken, Basil and Lime

spicy noodles

We all need more recipes like this one. Pantry staples, a pound of ground chicken, and dinner is on the table in about 20 minutes.  And the best part is that it’s not a boring “I didn’t have time to think about dinner” dinner.  It’s sweet, tart, spicy and light.  Interesting enough for the adults yet familiar enough for the kids.

Here’s a thought about rice noodles.  You want to be careful not to overcook them lest they turn to mush.  For this particular recipe, soak them in hot water until they are just as you would like to eat them, tender all the way through but still a nice silky bite.  Then toss them with the hot chicken and sauce and serve right away.  If you let them sit around waiting, they will soak up any available liquid and dry out the dish.  That being said, this stir fry is tasty enough that you will still want to gobble up the leftovers the next day straight out of the frig, mushy noodles or not.

Adapted from one of my favorite chefs, Ming Tsai, and his recipe for Crazy Chicken RIce Noodles, in Simply Ming.

 

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4-6 ounces pai thai rice noodles

3 tablespoons asian fish sauce

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon sugar

1-2 teaspoons sambal (asian chili sauce)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 shallots, thinly sliced

1 pound ground chicken

1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts, chopped

a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped

lime wedges for serving

 

1.  Soak the rice noodles in hot water until tender, about 20 minutes or according to package directions. Drain when ready and set aside.

2.  In a small bowl, combine fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and sambal and stir to combine.

3.  Heat a wok or heavy skillet over high heat.  Add the oil and the shallots and stir fry until they are golden brown.  Add the ground chicken and stir fry, using a spoon or metal spatula to break up the meat into small pieces, until cooked through.  Add the noodles and the fish sauce mixture and toss well.  Add the scallions and basil, toss again and serve immediately.  Serves 3-4.

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Cauliflower “Rice” Pilaf with Fresh Herbs

cauliflower rice pilaf to post

Honestly!  Is there anything you CAN’T make with cauliflower??  Clever people looking to lower their carb intake and/or avoid gluten have come up with wonderful recipes for using cauliflower as pizza crusts, bread sticks, tortillas and my favorite… “Rice”.  Cauliflower “Rice” is simply grated cauliflower but the texture is very rice-like and you can take the flavor anywhere you like.  Here is a simple version of mine, full of fresh herbs…a great side dish on it’s own or served as a bed for sauteed fish, chicken or mixed vegetables.

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1 head of Cauliflower, trimmed and cut in half

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 small shallots, peeled and minced (optional)

1/4 cup mixed chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, mint and chives

salt and pepper to taste

pine nuts, lightly toasted, to garnish

Coarsely grate the cauliflower with the large hole side of a box grater.  Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Saute shallot, if using, until translucent.  Add the grated cauliflower and let cook, tossing every few minutes, for 8 minutes or until tender.  There is enough water in cauliflower for it to steam itself so you will not have to add any liquid. Do not cover the skillet…you want the excess moisture to evaporate as the cauliflower steams to keep the rice-like texture.  Toss in fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with pine nuts to serve.

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Vietnamese Pork Stirfry with Garlic, Chilies and Lime

vietnamese pork to post

Don’t let the lack of a syrupy sauce fool you….this quick stir-fry is bursting with flavor!    Try it over rice or noodles, wrap it up in lettuce leaves or rice paper, or use as a topping for an Asian salad with fresh greens and cucumbers. I love the pork tenderloin here but you can substitute chicken as well.

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3 tablespoons peanut oil

1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed then cut into fine strips

4 scallions, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 red or green chilies, seeded and finely chopped

1/2 cup shelled, unsalted peanuts (note: if you only have salted peanuts, just rinse under water to remove the salt.  Fish sauce is quite salty so salted peanuts might overwhelm the dish)

grated rind and juice of 2 limes

2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

1/2 cups chopped fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves

 

Heat a wok or heavy pan and add 2 tablespoons of the oil.  Add the pork and sear over high heat until browned. (do not crowd pan…can do in two batches if necessary)  Remove the meat and juices to plate and set aside.

Wipe the work clean and return to the heat.  Pour in the remaining oil and add the onions garlic, ginger and chilies.   When the aromas begin to rise from the pan, add the peanuts and stir-fry for 1 minute.

Return the meat and its juices back to the wok, then stir in the lime rind and juice, followed by the fish sauce.  Add the fresh herbs and serve.

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Minced Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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A family favorite.  I like the texture of hand minced chicken much better than that of ground chicken.  It’s very quick and easy to do if you have a good sharp knife.  It is important not to overcook chicken breast meat or it will be dry and tough.  My method of letting the minced chicken sit undisturbed in a single layer until almost cooked through will keep it moist and tender….our home cooktops just don’t get hot enough to stir-fry effectively most of the time.
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4 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons peanut oil
salt
1 can bamboo shoots, diced
1 can water chestnuts, diced
1/2 cup scallions, sliced
3/4 cup celery, diced
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2  teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
salt and pepper to taste
lettuce leaves for wrapping
Sauce:
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Trim chicken of all visible fat and, using a large knife, slice lengthwise and then crosswise to get 1/4 inch minced pieces.  Season with 1 tablespoon soy sauce, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and set aside.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in wok or large skillet until very hot.  Sprinkle the oil with a pinch of salt and add 1/2 of the minced chicken and quickly spread it out to cook evenly.  Let cook undisturbed for about 2-3 minutes or until the the chicken is golden brown on the bottom.  Then toss the minced chicken around a for a few seconds (at which point the chicken will be almost cooked through)  then remove to a platter while you repeat with the remaining chicken.  After the last of the chicken has been cooked and set aside, stir fry the bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, scallions and celery for 2 minutes, adding a bit more oil only if necessary.  Return chicken to the pan. Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes, and cornstarch mixture and cook, tossing constantly, until chicken is cooked through and all ingredients are nicely glazed.  Remove from heat and drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Taste and season with salt and black pepper if necessary.   Mix sauce ingredients together in small serving bowl.  Arrange serving platter with lettuce leaves, minced chicken and sauce.
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Mongolian Beef

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I wish that you could see the Mongolian Beef page in my copy of Chopsticks, Cleaver and Wok, by Jennie Low.  It is splattered, splashed and frayed.  That goes to show just how many times I have turned to this recipe over the years.  I like to use sirloin strip steaks instead of flank steak, which is what is called for in many Asian stir fry recipes.  It’s a bit more expensive, for sure, but I find that I can serve four easily with just two good-sized steaks and it has a wonderful texture when sliced very thinly and cooked quickly over very high heat.
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1 1/2 pounds strip sirloin steak
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 green onions, slivered
2 fresh red chili peppers ( or 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes)
Seasoning:
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons thin soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
dash of pepper
1 tablespoon white wine (or dry sherry)
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
Sauce:
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons catsup
  Cut each steak crosswise into three pieces.  Trim fat from edges and slice across the grain very thinly…almost paper thin.  (a good sharp knife and cold meat will make this easier) Place in a bowl.
Add seasoning ingredients to beef.  Mix well.
Combine sauce ingredients, mix well, and set aside.
Heat wok or heavy skillet and add half of the oil.  Add half of the garlic and stir fry for 10 seconds over high heat.
Add half of the beef, spreading it out quickly, and let it brown nicely on one side undisturbed (about 2 minutes)  Then stir fry for another minute or two until beef is browned on both sides.  Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining oil, garlic and beef.  (Cooking all of the meat at once will lower the heat in the pan too much causing the meat to simmer. I sometimes have to cook this in many batches when serving a crowd but I just do it ahead of time and reheat it gently at serving time.) Remove second batch of meat to the plate while you briefly stir fry the green onions and red chili pepper for a few seconds then add all of the meat back to the pan.  Add the sauce mixture, mix thoroughly and cook for one minute, stirring.  The sauce should thicken a bit to coat the meat nicely.  Serve with rice.  (serves 4)
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