Thai Chicken and Noodle Salad

I absolutely adore Thai food. If I had to choose my favorite meal of all time, it would be Pad Thai (or maybe Pad Kee Mow) followed by sticky rice with mango or coconut ice cream. Mmmm. I haven’t cooked much Thai food, though, so I was excited to try the Thai Chicken and Noodle Salad recipe from the May 2008 issue of Everyday Food.

First, I made the Spicy Asian Dressing part of the recipe. In a medium bowl, I combined 4 thinly sliced scallion whites, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 cup of soy sauce, 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of light-brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon of anchovy paste (my first experience with this ingredient!), and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. I thinly sliced 1 1/4 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts crosswise and then put the chicken and half of the Asian dressing in a resealable bag. I marinated the chicken at room temperature for 30 minutes. (Overnight in the refrigerator works as well.)

I used the marination time to cook some rice noodles and prep the rest of the ingredients. In a large pot of boiling salted water, I cooked 3 1/2 ounces of rice noodles according to package directions, drained them, and rinsed them under cold water to stop the cooking. I transferred them to my serving bowl.

Next, I sliced 2 carrots into ribbons with a vegetable peeler and tore 1/4 cup of fresh basil into small pieces. I also cut 1 cucumber in half lengthwise and then thinly sliced it crosswise.

When the chicken had finished marinating, I heated 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, I cooked the chicken until it was cooked through (about 2 minutes per batch). I topped the rice noodles in my serving bowl with the cooked chicken and then topped the chicken with the carrots, cucumber and basil. Finally, I drizzled the dish with the other half of the Asian dressing and garnished it with sliced scallions and mint leaves.

Thai Chicken and Noodle Salad

Now this was a salad that Dr. O actually didn’t mind eating for dinner. The sauce was amazing – spicy, salty, sour and sweet all at once, as the recipe says – and it really made the dish. The flavor was pretty authentic, which rarely seems to happen when I attempt Asian food at home. I also really liked the crunch of the raw vegetables combined with the warmth and texture of the chicken. This is a good one.

TIPS: Just a warning for you noodle lovers out there – the noodle portion in this dish is pretty skimpy. I actually ended up cooking a second batch of rice noodles so Dr. O would have plenty as a base for his lunch (leftovers) the next day. I would probably just start with twice the noodles next time.

This could be a really terrific make-ahead meal if you marinate the chicken overnight and pre-slice the vegetables. It would only take about 15 minutes to boil the noodles, cook the chicken, and throw the rest of the salad together. (Rice noodles cook in about 3 – 5 minutes.)

Recipe link: Thai Chicken and Noodle Salad

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