I made this for dinner and it was met with rave reviews. I didn’t have unsalted peanut butter, so I used the regular stuff I have in the cabinets. I found the final dish too salty as a result, but no one else seemed to notice. So if you have unsalted peanut butter, use it, but don’t stress about it. Also, the chicken could be substituted for shrimp or skipped altogether. If I was making this for myself, I definitely wouldn’t need any meat, but I know lots of folks think they can’t get full without it (they’re crazy). This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from David Tanis’ City Kitchen column.
Serves 4 generously
6 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
6 tablespoons brown sugar
12 tablespoons lime juice
2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
Small Thai or Serrano chiles, thinly sliced, to taste (I don’t like spicy food, so I just skipped this step)
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
9 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 one-and-a-half inch chunk ginger, peeled and sliced
6 tablespoons natural unsalted peanut butter
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
Pinch of cayenne
Chicken and noodle salad:
1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 6)
8 ounces dried rice vermicelli or other rice noodles
2 small cucumbers, cut in 1/4-inch half moons
2 medium carrots, cut in thin julienne
Additional vegetables, as suggested above
Small handful basil or mint or cilantro sprigs, or your favorite of the three (torn or roughly chopped)
4 or more scallions, slivered
1/4 cup crushed or chopped roasted peanuts
Lime wedges (to serve)
1. Make the dipping sauce: Whisk ingredients in a small serving bowl, making sure to dissolve the sugar. Leave to ripen for 15 minutes. Refrigerate any extra and use within a few days.
2. Make the peanut dressing: In a blender or small food processor, puree all ingredients to a smooth sauce, about the thickness of heavy cream. Pour into a serving bowl.
3. Marinate the chicken: Stir together 1/2 the dipping sauce and 1/3 the peanut dressing (you can eyeball this) in the bottom of a low-sided bowl or dish. Add the chicken to the mixture and toss to coat. Let marinate at least 15 minutes.
4. Cook the noodles: Bring a large pot of water to the boil, then turn off the heat. Add the rice vermicelli and soak for 7 to 8 minutes. (Package directions may vary; check for doneness by tasting.) Drain when noodles are al dente, and cool under running water. Fluff and leave in strainer to drain well.
5. Cook the chicken: Grill the chicken on an outdoor grill, a stove-top grill pan, or run under the broiler until nicely browned, about 3 to 4 minutes a side. Let cool slightly, then chop roughly into 3/4-inch pieces.
6. Place everything on a large serving platter, with piles or small bowls for noodles, vegetables, chicken, the dressing and marinade and toppings (peanuts, herbs) and let everyone put it together in their own bowls as they wish.