Sunday, September 27, 2009

Asian-Style Chicken Udon Salad

One thing I miss the most about New York is how cheap, delicious, and easy to find Asian food was. Feeling like a quick bô-bun? A yummy pad thai? Chances are, wherever your apartment is, you can find either one a quick walk away.

In Paris, thing are different. Sure, there's amazing Vietnamese food to be had, owing to the pretty large Vietnamese population in France, and there are some really good Thai restaurants too. But none of them fall into the "cheap" category, and I can't seem to name a single place apart from the many sushi restaurants or Chinese take-outs that's within a five-minute walk from the apartment here. The crazy thing is, I have pretty much everything except the Asian food I'm craving: Italians galore, Indian, Mexican, you name it.

The only thing left to do is trek down to Tang Frères (I wrote about it a while ago here), stock up on Oyster Sauce, Hoisin Sauce, Nuoc Mam, and all the other wonderful things I can find for less than 1 euro. Tang Freres really is an Asian aficionado's paradise--I couldn't get over the fact that I had spent less than 30 euros for 30 items, even though I know prices are probably ten times higher than what you would actually pay in Asia. But I'm in Paris, and 90 cents for a jar of pickled ginger seems just right.

Now that my kitchen has exactly zero inches of free space left, and I've got everything I need, I can finally start cooking Asian food myself. Shrimp curries! Vietnamese chicken and tofu! If I didn't enjoy baking, I think I would spent my time making red and green curries and drown myself in liters coconut milk. I keep thinking I could eat pad thai and curries all day long, until I realize I don't think I would be able to fit into my kitchen if I decided to do that. Sure, my kitchen is small, but still--I won't take that risk.

Anyway, with my 3,000 magic ingredients on hand (did I mention my kitchen has really run out of space? I'm thinking of converting my whole apartment into a kitchen), I set out to recreate a recipe I made when I was back in Urbana for a couple of days: Chicken and Broccoli Udon Salad.

Chicken and Broccoli, pre-Udon

It's fresh enough for a warm summer lunch or dinner, but I can see myself making this throughout the year. The broccoli gives the salad a nice crunch, and the sauce coats all the ingredients nicely. Even better, it comes together in a short half-hour and the results are pretty impressive: this is one of those "one-pot" dishes that are good enough for an informal meal with friends.

And hey, since it won't prevent me from fitting into my tiny kitchen, I'd have seconds of this any day.

Asian-Style Chicken Udon Salad
serves 4

1 lb. chicken breast
1 lb. brocoli
1 lb. udon noodles (I used less, both times)
1/2 c. oyster sauce
2 TB Hoisin sauce
1 TB sesame oil
2 TS chili paste
1 bunch chopped scallions

- Cook the chicken in water, 5 to 10 minutes on medium heat. Drain, but keep the cooking water.

- Bring the water back to a boil and cook the broccoli for 5 minutes until bright green. Remove.

- Bring the water to a boil again, and cook udon. Reserve 1 cup liquid, and rinse udon under cold water.

Mix all the ingredients, adding 1/2 cup of the cooking water. If you'd like a thinner sauce, add the remaining 1/2 cup (I never do).

The temperature of the dish will be warm but definitely not hot, which is just perfect.
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Allegra said...

miam miam ca a lair deliiiicieux comme d'habitude ;)! Je rentre à paris jeudi, ca me ferait plaisir de te voir si t'es dispo. Bibiiis xx.