(this photo is terrible - I swear it looked really good in person and tastes delicious too!)
As a kid, I was a pretty picky eater. I didn't eat most vegetables, I hated spicy food (which is extremely unusual as a Korean) and I wouldn't touch most traditional Korean banchan (i.e. kimchi) with a ten-foot pole. It didn't really help that my mom had no problem with making three different meals for dinner and rarely challenged my specific tastes. So it was a long time before I started venturing out and trying things that I (thought I) didn't enjoy as a kid.
There are quite a few things that have started to grow on me probably in the last 5 years or so. Spicy food, red peppers, bean sprouts are all on the list. A fairly recent one is cabbage and slaws in general. I always thought the idea of letting a salad sit in dressing, getting soggy to be completely disgusting. Yes I know cabbage isn't the same thing as salad but it was basically the same thing in my head.
So anyway, I like cabbage now and I bought a head for coleslaw one night a few weeks ago. The thing with cabbage is that a little goes a long way. I buy some for one meal and then I'm left trying to figure out what to do with it for the rest of the week!
This noodle salad is a bit more heavy on the veggies (read: cabbage) and light on the noodles. The beauty of recipes like this is that you can really use whatever combination you like, as long as you have enough dressing for it. And you can sub in other veggies...bean sprouts, carrots, zucchini...you can't really go wrong. And its a perfect leftover meal for the next day!
Asian Chicken Noodle Slaw Salad
adapted from Serious Eats
1 boneless chicken breast (or about 1 cup of cooked chicken meat)
5 ounces soba noodles
1/2 a red bell pepper
1/4 a red cabbage
1/2 a cucumber
2 scallions, thinly sliced
5 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp Asian sesame oil
2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp sugar
1. Make the dressing: combined all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil for just a minute, whisking while it cooks. Remove dressing from heat.
2. Prepare the chicken: between two pieces of saran wrap, pound chicken breast with a mallet until it's about 1/2 inch thick.
3. Drizzle with some olive oil, salt and pepper and cook in a skillet over medium heat. Let it cook for about 3 minutes on one side, then flip and brush with a bit of dressing. Repeat a couple times until the chicken is cooked through (should really take no more than 10 minutes since it's been pounded down). Remove from heat and set aside.
4. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook noodles according to package instructions, stirring occasionally so they don't stick. Drain and rinse well under cold water.
5. Using a mandoline if you have it, julienne the bell pepper and cucumber into very thin strips. Slice the cabbage and green onion thinly.
6. Shred or chop chicken breast into bite sized pieces.
7. In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the noddles, veggies and peanuts (if using). Drizzle with dressing to taste. I personally prefer to dress the individual portions as I eat vs. dressing the entire salad though I find that it keeps beautifully with the dressing on as well. Serve immediately.