Vietnamese Noodle Bowl with Chicken and Veggies

I was feeling totally
uninspired and uncreative in the kitchen, so went back onto my favorite recipe app - Mealime - to see what might catch my eye. They had a crispy tofu bowl that looked interesting, but my two major meat eaters in the house meant changing it up to include chicken breast instead. The recipe was not too hard to make, and the sauce had a great flavor. I would do a few things differently next time though.

First, I tried tossing the chicken with the cornstarch and then frying in the same manner as they suggested with the tofu.  I honestly didn't think the unflavored coating added anything interesting to the chicken.  And in fact, I think I would prefer next time to add some seasoning to the chicken by marinating it for an hour before cooking.  I haven't decided in what. Maybe even a little of the dressing, or some soy sauce, or a fav Asian sauce or ????  So many options.

Second, I served the noodles warm instead of rinsing in cold water and draining.  That also meant I left off the lettuce the suggested as wilted lettuce isn't that appealing to me.  You could shred a hardier green like kale or even some finely shredded green or red cabbage. Red in particular would look great. In fact I wish I had done that just for the extra pop of color. 

The recipe below is what I created last night, including the suggestions above for changes. Be brave and try using this as a guideline to create your own version. I hope you enjoy your twist as much as I did mine. If interested, you can check out the original recipe HERE!

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Vietnamese Noodle Bowl with Chicken and Veggies
Serves 4

Ingredients - 

3                   Chicken Breasts, cut into bite size cubes and marinated for an hour in your fav sauce
2 tsp              Sesame oil
4                    Limes, juiced
1 C                Water
1/4 C             Brown sugar
1/4 C             Fish Sauce
2 T                Soy Sauce
1 tsp             Thai Sweet Chili Sauce (mild) OR Chili Garlic Sauce (hot)
1                   Jalapeno, finely minced (I used 1/2 for a milder version for my family)
2                    Garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
1                    English cucumber or 2 small, quartered lengthwise and cross-cut in 1/4" pieces
2                    Med. Carrots, shredded
1                    Bunch green onions, sliced crosswise and then coarsely chopped
1                    Small bunch cilantro, shave leaves from stems and coarsely chopped
10 oz             Flat rice (pad thai) noodles

Optional - Shredded greens, finely shredded red or green cabbage, chopped nuts (I sprinkled cashews on mine), or...let your imagination go wild.

Directions - 

Marinade chicken in your fav Asian sauce or even just some soy sauce for about 1 hour. 

While marinating, prepare all veggies and set out 4 bowls or plates. In medium bowl mix together lime juice, water, brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, chili sauce, jalapeno and garlic.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  

Bring a pot of water to a full boil.  Remove from heat and add your rice noodles. Stir until separated and then leave to soak undisturbed for 10 minutes (or according to package directions).  While noodles are soaking, heat a frying pan over med-high heat and add your sesame oil.  Sauté your chicken until cooked through and a little browned.  I finished this step just before draining the noodles.

Drain the noodles well and then divide between 4 bowls/plates.  The noodles won't stay hot, but will be warm or room temp.  Place carrots, cilantro, cucumber, green onions (and shredded greens or cabbage if you like) in small mounds around the outside.  Place a mound of chicken in the center of each.  

Using a small ladle, stir the dressing to mix the garlic and jalapeno in, then drizzle a scoop of dressing all over each bowl.  Sprinkle on chopped nuts.  Serve immediately with extra dressing on the side in case someone wants more.