If you make one new recipe this week, for all that is lovely and good and wonderful, let this be it.
I can’t get enough of this meal. For as many recipes as I have waiting in the wings to try, it’s unusual for me to make the same meal twice in a two week period just because I loved it so much. This recipe makes the short list of meals that haunted me until I made them again.
I’ve waxed poetic before about my love for Asian-inspired noodle dishes (need evidence? here, here, here, here). This meal is the ultimate combination: sweet-spicy, creamy peanut noodles with deliciously tender Asian grilled chicken and little bits of sweet and tangy cucumber salad (or sambal, if you really want to sound like a true foodie) thrown in there.
Don’t even think about making this without the cucumber sambal. You load your fork up with a bite of juicy chicken, peanut noodles and tartly flavored cucumbers and I swear to you, it’s complete and pure heaven. The flavors are totally out of this world – the perfect amount of spiciness and sweetness and tanginess.
You know those meals you could eat over and over and over again and still probably be tempted to make tomorrow? Yep, this is that meal for me. The bonus is that it comes together in 30 minutes or less (especially if the cucumber sambal is made ahead of time, but even if not, it’s a speedy meal) and is a fabulous light and healthy option for the warm months ahead.
The cucumber sambal can be made a couple hours (if not a day or so) in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator which can save time during dinner prep. Also, if you are confused about what exactly chili garlic sauce is, it is widely available near the other Asian ingredients - similar to sriracha sauce but a bit different in flavor and texture. I use the Huy Fong brand (MSG-free) and usually buy it on Amazon since my itty bitty grocery store in town is one of the few that don't carry it. It does pack a bit of heat so go easy on it if you are lowering the spiciness of the dish (you can always add more later if you need an extra kick).
- 1 cup seeded and diced cucumbers
- 1/2 cup thinly chopped green onions, white and green parts
- 1/2 cup small diced red pepper
- 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, more or less to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar, divided (you'll use some for the chicken, some for the noodles)
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce divided (same as the brown sugar)
- 1 teaspoon peanut, canola, vegetable or coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
- 12 ounces dry spaghetti noodles
- 1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)
- 1 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce, more or less to taste
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
- For the cucumber sambal, toss all the ingredients together and chill until ready to serve (this can be made a couple hours or even 1-2 days ahead of time).
- Preheat a grill to medium or medium-high heat. In a medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, oil and salt. Add the chicken breasts and toss to coat the chicken with the sauce. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
- While the chicken rests in the marinade, start a large pot of salted water to boil.
- In a microwave-safe bowl or in a small saucepan, combine the broth, peanut butter, remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar, vinegar, lime juice, remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, ginger, chili garlic sauce and sesame oil. Heat, stirring often, until simmering and smooth. Off the heat (or after it is done microwaving), stir in the cilantro. Season with a dash of salt, more or less to taste.
- Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook until al dente.
- While the noodles cook, grill the chicken 4-5 minutes per side until cooked through (about 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer). Remove to a plate and tent with foil.
- When the noodles are finished cooking, reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water in a bowl and then drain the noodles. Dump the noodles into a bowl or on a serving platter and toss with the warm peanut sauce. Add a tablespoon or two of the hot pasta water if needed to loosen up the noodles and sauce a bit (especially helpful if the noodles have sat for 5-10 minutes before serving).
- Serve the grilled chicken with the peanut noodles (you can even top the grilled chicken with the noodles) and a heaping scoop of the cucumber sambal.