A hot summer day will eventually turn into a cool night, which is a perfect time to eat fresh summer salads. Often, during the long, hot days of summer, good cooks put together big plates of refreshing salads. These salads are filled to overflowing with the good vegetables of the season.
Offered here is a super-fast meal made with cold Thai noodles and grilled chicken, tossed together in a clever but snappy cashew sauce--cool, filling, and delicious.
Thai noodles are available in many varieties, such as Wun Sen (Cellophane Noodles); Ba Mee (Egg Noodles); Kuay Chap (Rice Flake Noodles); and Khanom Chine (Rice Noodle Nests), just to name a few.
In this recipe, the Khanom Chine noodles are used because they are usually sold freshly cooked (at most Thai markets), thus saving cooking--and preparation--time in the kitchen. The nest shape also helps with portion control, with each serving being five cooked nests.
Cold Thai Noodle Salad with Chicken
Total Preparation Time: 1 hour
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking/Cooling Time: 45 minutes
Note: The ingredients for this cold salad could be assembled, covered tightly, and stored in the refrigerator a day in advance. Do not add dressing or cashews if made ahead.
10 cooked Khanom Chine (noodle nests)
2 chicken breasts, grilled and cut into strips
1 tablespoon Chinese 5-Spice Seasoning
1/2 cup (divided) canned mandarin orange sections (reserve juice from can)
1/2 cup (divided) canned grapefruit sections, drained and membrane removed.
1/2 cup (divided) shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup roasted, salted cashew nuts
3 tablespoons mandarin orange juice
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons honey
4 shallots, sliced thin
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 cup cashew butter
Pinch of salt and black pepper
To grill chicken:
Sprinkle dry chicken breasts with Chinese 5-Spice Seasoning; press lightly to make the seasonings stick.
Place on a hot grill and cook (turning once) until internal temperature reaches 155°F. Remove from grill, cool to room temperature, and wrap tightly in cling-wrap. The meat will continue to cook and come to a safe temperature within 10 minutes. Store in the refrigerator until needed. Use within 24 hours.
Put the salad together:
In a small bowl, place mandarin orange juice, fish sauce, honey, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt /pepper, and cashew butter. Whisk together, then add the sliced shallots. Reserve until needed.
Combine 5 noodle nests together in two wide, shallow, 8-inch bowls.
Add cold chicken strips, 1/4 cup each of mandarin and grapefruit sections, and the divided coconut to each bowl.
Pour enough dressing as needed over the ingredients in each bowl and toss lightly--just to combine.
Sprinkle with the cashew nuts and serve.
The softness of the noodles, the spicy, grilled chicken, crunchy coconut and cashews, and the spicy, nutty sauce will create a marvelous, cool, crisp meal to end any hot summer day. However, this meal is delicious all year long!