Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sesame Chicken and Noodles with Shiitakes and Baby Bok Choy

I've had this dish on my list of dishes-to-try since August.

The main reasons I hadn't made it yet were:

1. I didn't have my own kitchen in which to experiment with new recipes and,
2. It calls for ingredients which are hard to find where I live i.e. shiitakes and baby bok choy.

I've never cooked with baby bok choy (or even regular bok choy for that matter) so as always with a new ingredient, I was hesitant to pull the trigger. There's nothing that makes me more mad than messing up a dinner, having to trash it, and then ordering a pizza. Let me just say that if you are thinking about trying bok choy for the first time, do it! It's simple to prepare, has a lovely crunch, and quite frankly, is delicious. The grocery store finally had some good lookin' bok choy, so I decided this was the week to make that leap.

The recipe I adapted this dish from calls for fresh shiitakes. However, the hubby and I bought a huge container of dried shiitakes at Costco last month, so I subbed those. The dried shiitakes are chewier than fresh shiitakes, but overall, we are liking the dried shiitakes. Plus the water you reconstitute the mushrooms in becomes a flavorful broth after soaking them.

The recipe is a bit labor intensive, so I would recommend to the average working girl (or guy) to try this one on a night where you have a bit of time, perhaps a weekend night. The hubby and I loved this dish, as it provided us with flavors I don't usually cook with. Like a Japanese vacation for the taste buds. It also presents beautifully. The hubby wants to make this for company, which is a huge compliment coming from that hard-to-impress man :)

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 cup dried shiitakes
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 cup water
4 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp chile oil
8 ounces chow mein noodles
1 tsp sesame oil
cooking spray
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into thin slices
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds
4 baby bok choy, halved lengthwise
1 red pepper, sliced

1. Combine shiitakes through chile oil in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and remove from heat. Allow broth mixture to sit for 1 hour. Remove mushrooms from pan with a slotted spoon, place in a bowl, and set aside. Run broth through a sieve into a large (4-cup) liquid measuring cup. Set broth aside. Discard solids.
2. Cook chow mein noodles according to direction in a separate saucepan. Drain noodles, then place back in sauce pan. Toss with sesame oil, and set aside.
3. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with black pepper. Dredge chicken slices in sesame seeds, then place in pan. Cook 3 minutes on each side, or until slices are browned and cooked through. Remove from pan, and set aside.
4. Add baby bok choy to pan. Cook 3 minutes on each side, or until browned. Remove from pan, and set aside.
5. Add red pepper slices to the pan. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until slightly tender. Add reserved shiitakes to the pan, saute 1 minute or until mushrooms are heated through. Add reserved broth to the pan, allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes.
6. To plate, add 1/2 cup of noodles to a bowl. Place 1/4 cup vegetables, 4 ounces of chicken, and 1 baby bok choy on top of noodles. Spoon 1/4 cup of broth into bowls and serve.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

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