Monday, August 4, 2008

33. Udon Noodle Salad with Grilled Chicken and Asian Dressing (p. 247)

This tasty noodle dish starts with the chicken. First, you marinate four skinless, boneless chicken breast halves in soy sauce, garlic, grated fresh ginger, and rice wine vinegar. I had to make the marinade twice, though, because I threw in the entire "1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon" of the vinegar before I realized that I was only supposed to put one tablespoon into the marinade. For a second, I thought about leaving it, but I was a little worried that I'd end up pickling the chicken (can you make chicken ceviche?). I figured that it would be better to do it over correctly, rather than risk it. After marinating for about an hour in the fridge, the chicken breasts go onto the grill. After that, you let them cool a bit, slice them into strips and set them aside for the final dish.

Then there were the noodles. The Book calls for 3/4 pound dried udon. I'd never heard of such a thing. I've only seen udon in shrink-wrapped shelf-stable packages like those pictured here. I suppose I could have found them at an Asian specialty market, but I decided to go with what was available at the mega-mart. The result was good, but as I'll explain later, I think that I needed more noodles. (I should have figured that dried udon weighs less than the "fresh" noodles that I got.)

The dressing consists of chicken stock (my own homemade stock from my freezer! hooray for me!) simmered together with an obscene amount of cilantro and parsley. This is transfered into the blender to be pureed until smooth. Now, I've heard all of the warnings about putting hot things in a blender. I read and followed The Book's instructions on the topic on page 97. But, nevertheless, once I flipped the switch on my Oster-izer, a geyser of hot, green soupy liquid shot into the air and sprayed all over my counter and cabinets. It didn't look as bad as this ...

... but it was shocking just the same, and a pain in the butt to clean up.

The Book says to "Toss noodles with dressing in a large bowl." At this point, I knew I had done something wrong. I had so much dressing and so little noodles, that it was more like broth than dressing. I really needed about twice as much noodles, but, oh well, I'm learning as I go, here.

The finished dish was really good. The huge amounts of cilantro and parsley gave the noodles a very fresh, almost grassy taste (I mean that in a good way). It was vinegary, but not too, vinegary. The chicken was very moist and tender with a very mild and enjoyable soy, ginger flavor.

Date Cooked: July 27, 2008
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
Rating: B


John and Katie Flanagan said...

Great blog! I am enjoying another Gourmet blogger!

Melissa Bach Palladino said...

Ha haha--one time I had to clean a strawberry smoothie off everything, including the ceiling--and it wasn't even hot! My strategy with hot stuff in blenders is to fill it only halfway, pulse it a few times on the lowest setting, and hold on to the lid for dear life as I work my way up the buttons from "chop" to "liquify".

Kiki said...

Luckily I was napping when the blender exploded and was none the wiser until I woke up and saw the green casualty of one of my white dishtowels (paper towels next time, Einstein). Anyhow, this was good, but we ate the whole thing in one sitting and I still could have used seconds (and I'm not just saying that as a fat pregnant lady). I guess the noodle ratio was a little off.

Kay said...

Love the video clip!