Sesame Chicken Noodle Salad
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Assuming you are decent at timing, hopefully your pasta is done as well right around this time.
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!
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!
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?