Cold noodles have SO much going for them. Here, I’ve used them in an utterly alluring dish, which teeters on the verge of an Asian salad. There is so much bounce and freshness going on in this bowl, that one bite totally takes me to a happy place. And that dressing! Yikes, it’s good. It’s also a recipe the whole family can get behind – let everyone mix theirs at the table how they like it.
2 chicken Marylands
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups bean shoots
100g (3.5 oz) pea shoots, trimmed
4 bundles (330g / 11 3/4 oz) dried shandong ramen noodles*
1 large Lebanese cucumber, trimmed, cut into matchsticks (try to remove most of the seeds)
3-4 spring onions (scallions), trimmed, cut into matchsticks
1 bunch radishes, trimmed, finely sliced
large handful of fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves
1/3 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds
chilli oil, to serve (optional)
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup Chinese sesame paste*
2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2½ tsp caster (superfine) sugar
2½–3 tbsp hot water
Place the chicken and stock in a medium saucepan, adding a little more water if the chicken pieces aren’t totally covered. Slowly bring to a simmer over medium heat, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 15 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat and leave the chicken to stand in the liquid, covered, until cooled. When cool enough to handle, remove the chicken, reserving the stock for another use. Discard the skin and bones, then using clean hands, shred the chicken. Place in a serving bowl.
Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil for the sprouts, and a second, large pan to the boil for the noodles.
As you’re waiting for the water to boil, make the dressing by placing all the ingredients in a large bowl and whisking until smooth.
Add the bean shoots to the boiling water and cook for about 30 seconds or until ever so slightly softened (you still want them with a little bit of bite). Scoop out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a colander. Now add the pea shoots to the same boiling water and cook for a few seconds until just wilted. Scoop out again and add to the colander. Run the shoots under cold water to prevent any further cooking until cool to the touch. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl. Spread the sprouts on kitchen paper to absorb remaining water. Place in a large bowl with the pea shoots.
Half fill a large roasting dish with ice cubes. Add the noodles to the large pan of boiling water and bring back to the boil, stirring gently with tongs to loosen the noodles. Cook over medium heat for 4 minutes, or according to the manufacturer’s instructions, until tender. Drain well, then spread over the ice cubes in the tray to cool. Alternatively, you can run the noodles under cold water, although this can make them a little bit gummy.
Using tongs, transfer the noodles to the large bowl with the sprouts. Drizzle over some of the sesame dressing, add the chicken, then toss to combine well. Add a little more dressing if needed, depending on how saucy you like things.
Divide the noodle mixture among 4 large serving bowls. Top each with some cucumber, spring onion, radish, coriander and peanuts. Sprinkle with sesame seeds on and add a splash of chilli oil, if using.
– Chinese sesame paste is a thick brown paste made from toasted white sesame seeds, and has a rich, nutty flavour. You can find this easily at an Asian grocer. You could also use a Japanese sesame paste or, failing that, try peanut butter – the dish will still be fabulous.
– Shandong noodles are thick(ish) wheat-flour noodles that originate from Shandong, China. They’re lovely and springy with a pleasantly chewy texture. Find them online or from your Asian grocer.