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Chicken, Economical, Main Dishes, Pasta, Quick and Easy, Salad, Spicy

Sesame Chicken Noodle Salad

by Nick

I love my kitchen as much as the next food blogger.  I feel very comfortable there.  It’s normally very relaxing for me to cook.

But sometimes I just want dinner to be made.  I want a dish that’s quick, flavorful, and simple.

I want a dish that I can make within the time it takes me to listen to one podcast of Car Talk.

This dish is that dish.

It can look a bit intimidating, especially if you aren’t use to cooking with a lot of Asian flavors.  But really it’s dumb simple to make and utilizes one of my favorite kitchen tips!

Yield
Serves 4.
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Sesame Chicken Noodle Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 pound linguine
  • Vegetable oil
  • Arugula
  • Sesame Sauce:
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and diced
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup pasta water (from linguine)

Directions

1) Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add a drizzle of vegetable oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat.

2) Sear chicken on both sides for about 4 minutes, then turn down heat and continue to cook chicken, flipping occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes total cooking time.

3) Remove chicken from pan and slice into large chunks.

4) Start cooking pasta. When pasta is almost done, scoop out some pasta water.

5) Mix sauce ingredients in a bowl. Stir well. The sauce should be very smooth and silky. If it's very thick, add more pasta water.

6) Using same pan that you cooked the chicken in, add another drizzle of oil and add red peppers. Cook for just a few minutes over medium-high heat until veggies soften.

7) Add diced chicken back to skillet and stir in sesame sauce.

8) Drain pasta and add to skillet. Stir together to incorporate everything.

9) Serve sesame chicken salad on a bed of arugula.

Heavily adapted from a Cook's Country recipe.

The Sesame Sauce

When I say this meal can be intimidating, it’s mostly because I’m not sure a lot of people keep their pantries stocked with the stuff to make this sauce.

If you have to buy this stuff for the first time, it’ll involve lots of words you probably can’t pronounce and at least one panda bear.

sauce

Lots of jars…

Have no fear though.  Once you hunt down all the jars that you need, the only actual work you need to do for the sauce besides measuring is peeling and dicing some ginger.  Not rocket science!

There is one problem though.  When you mix all these ingredients together, it will taste very good, but it’ll most likely be a bit on the lumpy side.

Don’t worry about this right now.  We’ll fix it later!

sauce

A bit chunky…

The Chicken

The sauce is definitely the star of this show.  You don’t have to use chicken for this dish if you wanted to make a vegetarian version.  You could just toss the sauce with the noodles or use some seared tofu if you wanted.

I went the chicken route on this day though.  Assuming you are using chicken, just season a few boneless skinless breasts with a good pinch of salt and pepper.  I’m usually not a huge boneless skinless chicken fan, but it works well for this recipe.

chicken

Keep it simple.

In a large skillet, heat a drizzle of oil over medium high heat and once the pan is hot, add the chicken.

Sear the chicken for about 4 minutes per side.  Then turn down the heat to medium and continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through, probably another 6 minutes or so.  That of course will depend on how big your chicken breasts are.

Mine were on the smaller side.

seared

Make sure it’s cooked through…

Once the chicken is cooked through, scoop it out of the pan and slice it into big chunks.

You want the chicken to be visible in the final dish!

sliced

Big chunks work great.

Finishing the Dish

There’s just a few other things you’ll need to finish off this recipe.  While it’s kind of optional, I recommend dicing up a red pepper and also getting some arugula ready.

other veggies

Two quick veggies.

When it comes to the pasta for the dish, you can use almost any thin pasta.  Spaghetti, linguine, angel hair… it would all work fine.

Fantastic Kitchen Tip Alert

Anytime you are making a sauce to go with pasta, one of the best sauce helpers you can have is the actual water that you cook the pasta in.  Pasta water is starchy and salty and will help smooth out sauces and give them some body.

If you ever find yourself with a lumpy or lackluster sauce, try adding some pasta water to it.

In this case, we will add about 1/2 cup to that lumpy sauce that we mixed together earlier.

pasta

Wonderful water.

This will completely smooth out the sauce and make it perfect.

In the same skillet that you used to cook the chicken (no need to wash it even), add another drizzle of oil and then toss in your red peppers.

Cook them for a few minutes until they are soft and then add in your chicken.  Pour your sauce over the whole thing!

sauced

Sauce is really smooth now.

Assuming you are decent at timing, hopefully your pasta is done as well right around this time.

linguine

Almost any pasta will work.

Then just stir your pasta in with the chicken and sauce.

It’ll look like a lot of sauce, but it’s just enough to coat all the stuff.

If at any point, the sauce gets too thick, just add a bit more pasta water to it and it’ll thin out.

This was my finished version!

finished

All tossed together!

Now, you could just serve this in a big bowl, but I tried something a bit unconventional.

I served mine on arugula.  This might sound strange to serve a pasta dish on greens, but it worked really well actually.  The arugula is nice and peppery and holds up well to the strong sesame flavors.

And it makes for a pretty plate!

sesame chicken

Pretty plate!

So there ya go!

If you can master the sauce, this dish is really simple to throw together, but really delivers in the flavor department.

Give it a shot if you’re in the market for a quick and easy dinner.  And let’s be real… who isn’t in the market for a quick and easy dinner?

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10 comments on “Sesame Chicken Noodle Salad

  1. I make a similar peanut sauce with noodles, but I add in lime juice instead of Rice Wine Vinegar, and Instead of Oyster I use low sodium soy sauce. I also add roasted broccoli to mine as well. It’s a great dipping sauce for sweet potatoes fries (roasted with chinese five spice).

  2. Nick, I LOVE this! I am so disinterested in cooking tonight that I was planning to stop by our favorite Thai place for takeout on the way home. BUT with this clever possibility on the table, I may change my mind. I’m thinking tofu and rice noodles, since we have those on hand. I also love the sweet potato fry idea, but that would take more than 15 minutes, so that won’t happen tonight.

    Thanks for the super-timely post!

  3. I love simple, interesting pasta dishes! This is up there among the many Macheesmo brand meals I need to make for myself some day soon.

    I have only one concern, and maybe it’s just me. I’m worried that for as often as you say you “aren’t a fan of boneless, skinless chicken breasts” it’s a recurring ingredient on here (3 in December alone).

    I only bring it up because of all the issues surrounding large-scale meat production and specifically chickens. I apologize for a political bent/rant on a food blog (especially one of my favorites!), but I felt like its an important issue to raise.

    I love that Macheesmo is often veggie or less-meat friendly without being militantly anti-meat. And, your decision a couple of years ago to strategically cut meat out of several meals per week helped steel my reserve to do the same. But, I don’t know that it goes far enough some times.

    It’s important to not let politics ruin food for us, and undoubtedly, most of your readers would rather have animal protein than tofu in this dish, but we also have to balance that with a responsibility to each other, the food, and the animals. After all, in the world of mass-produced meat products, chicken breasts and ground beef are the two most energy intensive, disease-prone, and highly consumed products on the market. The worst part of it is that sustainably produced chickens are usually the easiest meat product to source locally, from your friendly local farmer.

    I eat meat, and I certainly wouldn’t say that it’s easy or cheaper to buy sustainably. But, I’m also someone who makes their living supporting and feeding a local food system, and I know how much more meaningful paying a few dollars can make for your community, the farmers trying to live, the eaters who get a fresher, more flavorful product, and the animals who aren’t caged and slaughtered in the kind of conditions that people like PETA love to shock us with.

    I’m sorry, Nick! I know you’re a progressive food kinda guy. And, it’s always awesome to click my bookmark and see what you’re making/posting, but I had to speak out, since it’s something I’ve been noticing lately.

    1. Thanks for the comment Neal! Huh… I didn’t even notice the recent chicken breast trend. Definitely not on purpose… I generally just don’t like them in dishes because I don’t think they add much.

      I haven’t really been keeping solid track of the amount of meat that I eat. Honestly, it’s probably more than the year where i made a huge effort to reduce my meat levels, but less than the amount of meat I ate before that year. Does that make sense?

      But yea. Your comment is noted and very thoughtful. Thanks for reading!

  4. Made this yesterday – but since I live in Russia at the moment you cannot get a hold of peanut butter. But the other day I did my home made almond butter and used that instead. It worked perfectly. So even if you are not able to get peanut butter you can always do it yourself – it stores in the fridge a long time.

    1. I was just going to ask if cashew butter might work for a substitute to peanut butter. Peanuts make me break out in hives. So thank you for making the comment that almond butter was a great sub.

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