Don't get me wrong--I really like the heat. Everyone else will be sweating and I'll be searching for my sweatshirt! And I certainly complained enough about the lack of warmth during the long, long winter we endured. But even I sometimes feel a bit too sweltering on these 90º-plus days and want to opt for a no oven or grill night. That's when this Asian Shredded Chicken Breast & Noodle Salad totally fits the bill. There's only a small amount of stovetop cooking involved and because it's all mixed together in one bowl--minimal cleanup too! Plus it's full of amazing sesame flavor and absolutely delicious!!
What I especially love about this salad is the way all the different textures and flavors meld into one another but still somehow maintain their own uniqueness. There's the crunchiness of the cucumber, carrots and scallions, the slippery smoothness of the udon noodles, and the tenderness of the chicken, all held together by a light Asian-inspired sesame dressing. It's so tasty and involves little more than chopping up some fresh vegetables and tossing them together with some chicken and an easy-to-make vinaigrette.
Another great thing about this dish is that you can make it the day before and it will still be amazingly delicious--a very little bit of it was leftover and my husband gobbled it up (well, that's a bit of an exaggeration since he's a very slow eater) but suffice it to say that he thoroughly enjoyed it for lunch the next day. In fact, he wished I'd doubled the recipe so we had more leftovers and next time I make it I will definitely do that!!
So, on all fronts this was a knockout hit in my house and not only will I making this again this summer, but I predict that this dish will even be making winter appearances!!
Asian Shredded Chicken Breast & Noodle Salad
Makes about 4 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes (including cooking the chicken)
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
9 ounces udon noodles
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
Dash of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup water
2 carrots, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 cucumber, thinly sliced and chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1. Place the chicken in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until chicken is entirely cooked through. Transfer chicken to a plate to cool. Discard liquid. When chicken is cool enough, shred into bite-sized pieces.
2. At the same time, bring another pot of salted water to boil and cook udon noodles according to the directions on the package so that they're al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
3. Toast sesame seeds in a small heavyweight saucepan over low heat. Make sure to keep shaking the pan and stirring them so that they don't burn. You want them to be light golden brown. It should only take a few minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
4. In a large bowl, whisk the tahini, vinegar, soy sauce, red pepper flakes and 1/4 cup water together until very smooth. Season with a bit of salt to taste. Add the carrots, cucumber, scallion whites, shredded chicken and noodles and toss well to coat. Garnish with the scallion greens and sesame seeds.
5. Leftovers keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Note: Recipe based on an old Bon Appetit Magazine issue. I doubled the amount of chicken used so it would be a more substantial dinner.