- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 22, 2009

There’s a second pasta section in your supermarket. Instead of the familiar packages of spaghetti, penne and macaroni, check the Asian food department for noodles that may be new to you.

You’ll find noodles made with rice, buckwheat or corn flour as well as egg-enriched wheat noodles. These aren’t mere placeholders for meat. The flavors and textures contribute to your enjoyment of the meal.

Some of the types of Asian noodles you’re likely to find in your favorite store are cellophane, soba and udon noodles.

When cooking, follow the package directions, not your preferred way to prepare Italian pasta. Asian noodles should be tender, not firm at the center, when done. And unlike Italian pasta, which is drained and served, Asian noodles are often rinsed in cold water before proceeding with a recipe.

Rather than recommend one noodle, the following recipe for chicken and vegetables offers a choice of soba or udon noodles. Make savory chicken with Asian noodles either way; serve hot or tepid and expand your pasta palate.

Savory chicken with Asian noodles

Makes 2 servings.

4 ounces soba or udon noodles (half an 8-ounce package)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size strips

1 garlic clove, minced

1 small head bok choy, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 cup sliced shiitake mushroom caps

1/4 cup chicken broth, preferably reduced-sodium

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon chili oil

1/4 cup finely chopped scallion, green parts only

Cook Asian noodles in boiling water until tender, following package directions (8 minutes for soba; 8 to 10 minutes for udon noodles). Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and brown on both sides, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes total. Remove. Add garlic, bok choy and mushrooms to skillet. Turn heat up to high. Cook vegetables until tender, stirring constantly, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Pour in broth and stir up any browned bits in skillet. Add soy sauce, sesame oil and chili oil. Add chicken. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat. Stir in noodles and sprinkle on scallions.


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