First step – let’s poach that chicken! I used chicken thighs and breasts, but you can use one or the other if you prefer. Just make sure that the chicken is bone in, which will result in the most flavorful chicken.
A few cloves of fragrant star anise (do NOT leave this out – it lends an unmistakably Chinese taste to the chicken),
1 quartered onion, a few smashed cloves of garlic, and the (cleaned) stems of cilantro, whose leaves you will use later.
Just set this pot to boil for at least 30 minutes, though an hour is better – the flavors will just intensify as it boils. When you are ready, just plop the chicken in and turn the heat down until the broth is just simmering, NOT boiling. This will ensure that the chicken cooks slowly and evenly. Poaching results in incredibly juicy and tender chicken, and boiling often renders it too tough.
It is done when the juices run clear when pierced with the fork – probably not more than 20 minutes, if you have a great stove, longer if you have a worse one (oh, New York kitchens…we all hate you). Strain the soup so all you have is the broth. You can toss the veggies, but SAVE THE BROTH! You will use it momentarily!
Set the chicken aside to cool momentarily while you make the dressing:
You want to use whatever citrus you have lying around, but you at least need a lime. Lime has a certain acidity that really brings this salad to life. Use oranges, tangerines, clementines for the rest of the juice, but you need at least one lime. We used tangelos – they are sweet like tangerines but as big as oranges and with less seeds.
So yes…you will need 2 cups total of citrus juice.
Add to that about 1/2 a cup of rice wine vinegar,
1 cup of sesame oil (not the hot kind, this time…the heat comes later),
about a tablespoon of ponzu flavored soy sauce (it’s worth it to buy this citrus flavored soy if you haven’t yet. It will absolutely CHANGE YOUR LIFE),
and about 3 Tbls. of Hoisin sauce. This is a sweet, thick Chinese condiment that is the equivalent of Chinese BBQ sauce. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t become an instant fan of it. Whisk the dressing until smooth, then take the skin off the cooled chicken and shred it off the bone.
Let the chicken absorb the marinade – while it is warm or room temperature, the meat will absorb the most flavor.
Now, take your package of rice noodles. These are the things that pad thai are made out of, and though you could use cappellini or bean thread noodles, these have the nicest, springy texture. You could even use fried wontons if you want, but, what the heck…I love a noodle!
Here is where the broth comes into play. Boil the noodles until al dente, and they will absorb all the deep, salty, fragrant flavors of the broth.
Then drain ‘em and then you can throw the broth if you want (but I never would! That makes for some great eating!!)
I know it’s been awhile, but lunch is almost ready!
Now you just cut up a couple of bell peppers. Any color will do, just be sure that you get a pepper that is shiny, smells fresh and a bit fruity and is firm with no wrinkles.
Lop of the top and bottom,
cut off the walls of the pepper, and slice them into thin strips. Be sure to only get the colored parts of the pepper, none of the white membrane.
And then just prepare the other veggies and herbs. We used cukes, scallions, peppers, cilantro, bean sprouts and pea shoots. Use whatever you want, but these are the best ones. Trust me.
My blog, my rules.