Conversation between myself and my teenage daughter:
“Mom can we eat dinner for the Homecoming dance at our house?”
“Of course, what are you going to eat?”
“Whatever you are cooking!”
This is a teenage way of saying, “Hey mom, would you be kind enough to fix dinner for me and my date and two other couples for the Homecoming dance this weekend? I know it’s short notice, but I would be ever so appreciative if you could. I’ll even help!”
Seriously, when has the second conversation ever happened in any household in America? So with my new calling as “Homecoming Chef Extraordinaire” I sat down to decide what to fix. I searched the Overdrive database for a new cookbook that looked accessible to my somewhat kitchen challenged mind. Simple Asian Meals by Nina Simonds caught my eye. Any book title with the word “Simple” in it better deliver, so I browsed the recipe titles and was a little put off by some of the names of the recipes–Lemony Cilantro Chicken with Swiss Chard and Stir Fried Turkey Tenderloin in Oyster Sauce did not sound at all appetizing to my unadventurous self. I settled on Seared Black Bean Chicken Over Crispy Noodles. As I read through the directions it didn’t seem too difficult and my daughter said she was game to try it so it was a go.
I had to send my husband to a specialty Asian market to get some of the ingredients, namely fermented black beans. He couldn’t find those and bought instead the suggested substitute listed–black bean garlic sauce.
With all the ingredients gathered I took a breath and dove in. It was fairly simple, but a little time consuming preparing all the parts of the recipe. Getting the noodles “crispy” was a little challenging. I had to watch it closely so they didn’t burn and I didn’t let it broil for the full 15 minutes suggested. 10 minutes worked just fine, but it probably depends on your broiler. The jarred black bean garlic sauce is quite salty, so be careful when using it, I would cut back on the soy sauce use as well to make sure it’s not overly salty. I also used regular angel hair noodles, not whole wheat and I used rice vinegar, not rice wine or sake.
The results were quite good! It was a little more spicy than I usually like, but the kids, especially the boys who all cleaned their plates, liked it. (They all thanked me like the polite teenage gentlemen they are!)
Seared Black Bean Chicken Over Crispy Noodles from Simple Asian Meals by Nina Simonds
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, trimmed of fat and gristle
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 medium red onion, peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
3/4 pound snow or snap peas
6 ounces whole wheat spaghetti or angel hair noodles
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 1/2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
BLACK BEAN SEASONINGS (combine in a small bowl)
3 tablespoons fermented (salted) black beans, rinsed lightly and chopped finely, or black bean garlic sauce
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 cups chicken broth, preferably low-sodium
3 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
2 1/2 tablespoons rice wine or sake
1/2 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1. Cut the chicken into 1-inch squares. Place in a bowl, add the garlic and soy sauce, toss lightly to coat. Cut the onion and peppers into thin julienne slices. Snap the ends off the snow or snap peas and remove any veiny strings.
2. Preheat the broiler. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the noodles and cook for slightly less time than directed on the package, until nearly tender. Drain in a colander and rinse to remove the starch. Drain thoroughly and toss with the toasted sesame oil and 1 teaspoon of the olive or canola oil. Spread the noodles out on a baking sheet and broil for 10 to 15 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Alternatively, you may pan-fry the unrinsed noodles in 2 tablespoons hot oil until golden brown. If you do this in advance, you may reheat in the oven at 200 degrees F.
3. Heat a wok or heavy skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive or canola oil and heat until very hot, about 25 seconds. Add teh chicken and cook for about 4 1/2 minutes, or until opaque and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain.
4. Arrange the noodles in a large, deep serving dish or bowl. Wipe the pan and reheat with the remaining olive or canola oil over medium high heat until very hot. Add the BLACK BEAN SEASONINGS and stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes over high heat. Add the onion, peppers, and snap peas and stir fry for about 1 minute. Add the SAUCE, partially cover, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent lumps. Add the chicken and toss lightly to coat. Spoon the mixture over the noodles and serve immediately.
Written by Julie, one of our volunteers.