The chilly weather gives you an insatiable appetite yet you are in the midst of a cooking rut.
Your brain is ready to move forward with bright, crunchy, green foods, but your body still craves carbohydrates and your fridge is full of root vegetables.
You can't decide if you'd rather cook or nap.
Lemony Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup
It may be awhile since you've found perfect asparagus, so here's a few prep tips:
Snap off the woody ends of the spears like a wishbone.
Blanch spears in salty boiling water for about two minutes, then immediately plunge them into an ice water bath.
Be sure to add the asparagus and the rice noodles at the last minute--you don't want to end up with limp spears and mushy noodles, do you?
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 of a preserved lemon, pulp removed and rind thinly sliced or the juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 3 T. soy sauce
- 2 T. toasted sesame oil (one for tossing with the chicken, another for sautéing)
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- 3 T. tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 2 T. minced peeled fresh ginger
- 1 T. sugar
- 1 T. seasoned rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. sambal oelek chili sauce, or Sriracha (more if you like it spicy)
- 1/2 bunch fresh asparagus, woody ends snapped off, and cut into 3 inch pieces
- 6 green onions, thinly sliced
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 8 ounces rice noodles (or fresh egg noodles)
- 2 handfuls of baby spinach greens
- Toss the chicken breasts with the soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil. Let marinate while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Combine the garlic, tahini, ginger, sugar, rice vinegar and sambal olek in a small bowl. Add lemon juice and rind (if you aren't using preserved lemons).
- In a heavy saucepan, warm 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil over high heat. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, let the marinate drip off into the bowl, and place them in the oil to sear, discarding the marinade. Cook the breasts for about 5 minutes on each side or until they are dark brown and almost cooked through. Set aside on a plate.
- Toss the scallions and preserved lemons into the pot, and cook over high heat for 1 minute.
- Add the tahini sauce and cook for another minute, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan into the sauce.
- Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, and cook with the lid ajar.
- Blanch the asparagus: place the spears in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes, testing them at 2 minutes to see if they are done. They should be very crisp, and a bit underdone. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water. After a few minutes, drain and set aside.
- Place the rice noodles in the hot water for 1-2 minutes until softened. Drain and set aside.
- Slice the chicken against the grain into 2 inch strips, then cut into bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken to the simmering broth, along with the spinach leaves. Heat through for a few minutes. Add the asparagus and the rice noodles just before serving, as soon as they have been warmed by the broth.
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