The second dish I made for poaching week was a sesame chicken cucumber noodle salad, adapted from this Eating Well recipe. I had collected a lot of recipes over the months that included pre-cooked chicken as an ingredient, but since we don't live close enough to Costco to have rotisserie chicken on a regular basis (and the grocery store rotisserie chicken always looks awful), we never have any leftover cooked chicken. Poaching week was a good excuse to learn how to poach chicken for those types of recipes.
- 3 bunches (about 9 oz) of buckwheat noodles ($2.50)
- 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter (should have been more but we ran out) ($0.50)
- 3/4 cup rice vinegar ($0.60)
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil ($0.46)
- 2 tbsp shaoxing wine ($0.10)
- 1 cup thinly sliced scallions ($0.43)
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce ($0.10)
- 2 tbsp sriracha ($0.15)
- 1 bag of chopped romaine salad ($1.99)
- 2 chicken breasts ($2)
- 2 red bell peppers ($2)
- 1 large cucumber ($1.69)
- salt and pepper to taste ($0.10)
At approximately $12.60, it was not a cheap recipe but considering it made about 6 servings (big dinner for two plus lunch for two days for me), it's not too bad (about $2.10 per serving).
1. Poach chicken (method here).
2. Cook noodles until just tender (about 6 minutes for dry noodles). Drain and run noodles under cold water (or transfer to ice water). Transfer drained cold noodles to large bowl and set aside.
3. Prep everything else - thinly slice scallions, dice peppers, cut cucumber, cut chicken into bite-size pieces.
4. Make dressing - whisk peanut butter, vinegar, sesame oil, shaoxing wine until smooth. Add scallions, soy sauce and sriracha and stir to blend.
5. Cut or tear romaine into smaller pieces and add to the bowl with the noodles.
6. Add chicken, bell peppers and cucumber to the noodles, and mix everything together.
8. Add salt and pepper to taste and the remaining dressing if desired. (We liked the dressing so we used it all.)
This was one of my favorite February recipes. A really light and healthy salad which got even better as lunch leftovers as the flavors melded more overnight. It was a nice break from the usual heavier and heartier soups and stews that characterize winter recipes. It was also a fairly quick (compared to some others) and straightforward recipe.
The salad was salty, sweet and a little spicy from the extra sriracha we added. It felt really light from the raw cucumbers, peppers and lettuce. Although the chicken was a little overcooked during the poaching (see here), you couldn't tell at all once it was in the salad and it wasn't dry at all. The star of the salad was the excellent dressing. This would be a wonderful salad dressing for any Asian-themed salad. We would definitely make this again.