Peter and I were in the car heading out for a lunch date when Angela called. “Can we go to the Farmers Market?” She asked in a sleepy voice. Peter began to tell her that we were on our way to lunch when I interrupted him, “Sure, Angela, we are coming back right now. Let’s go to the farmers market.”
I almost felt flattered that Angela wanted to spend time with us. She is usually too preoccupied with her friends, school work or daydreaming to spend much time with us. We turned the car around and dropped whatever lunch plans we had to answer her last minute invitation.
We are at this stage of parenthood.
For dinner, I reached back to my Sichuan roots and made this flavorful spicy chicken noodle salad. For the vegetarians in the house, I used baked tofu instead of roast chicken. If you like spicy food, you must give this a try. It is simple and delicious.
When I was setting the table, the girls were giggling and running back and forth between their rooms and the dining room. When they finally settled down to eat, they were both wearing big sweaters, sitting hunchbacked and covering their chests with their hair. They couldn’t stop giggling. Then I saw that they were both wearing earbuds, covered by their long hair. It turned out that they were trying to circumvent the rule of no TV and no cell phone at the dinner table. Are we really so tedious to talk to?
Soba Noodle Salad With Roast Chicken
And Chile-Scallion Oil
Ingredients for Chile-Scallion Oil:
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 to 2 star anise pods (optional)
3 dried red chili peppers, crushed into flakes (you can adjust the amount of peppers according to how spicy you want the dish to be. Mine is relatively mild because Peter doesn’t like it too hot.)
1 tablespoon graded fresh ginger
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns (optional, but really add a distinct Sichuan flavor to the dish if you can find them.)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Noodles And Assembly:
6 oz. Japanese soba noodles or ramen, or udon (I used soba with buckwheat and yam)
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 cups shredded roast chicken breast (I used Costco roast chicken)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2/3 large English hothouse cucumber, thinly sliced
4 – 5 radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
1 cup or more cilantro leaves or any sprout
Cook all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling pan occasionally, until scallions and garlic are just golden brown, about 3 minutes. Let cool; transfer oil to a jar.
Noodles And Assembly
Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions; drain. Rinse noodles under cold water, then shake off as much water as possible.
Whisk soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and oil in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Add noodles, chicken, and scallions; toss to coat.
Toss with cucumber, radishes, and cilantro and drizzle with chile oil just before serving.
For a non-spicy vegetarian noodle salad with scallion oil, try my Shanghainese version.
Adapted from bon appetit.