Friday, January 3, 2014

Kicked-Up Ramen Noodles

I was never a fan of eating Ramen noodles the way they are intended- cooked with that scary salt ("flavoring") packet.  However, lately, I'm learning that the noodles themselves are very good in other recipes!  I keep them on hand now to make this quick Thai-inspired soup that my husband, myself, and my daughter all love.  (I also discard the "flavoring" packet for that recipe.)  
This recipe is a very simple and delicious dish- you add chicken, nuts and veggies to ramen noodles with chicken broth and flavor it with garlic and ginger.  I loved it!  Plus, it gave me a reason to open that hoisin sauce I've had in my pantry forever.  Feel free to add favorite (quick-cooking) veggies to this, or to increase the peppers.  Dishes like this are very forgiving.  My sesame oil was extremely old, and I smelled it before adding to the dish.  It smelled funky, so I left it out (and threw out the bottle).  This was still really good.  I also had to garnish this with sliced jalapenos since my store was out of green onions!  

Kicked-Up Ramen Noodles
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

3 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2-3), cubed (or 6 chicken tenders)
1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced thin
1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or cayenne (I cut back on this for the kids)
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 (3-ounce) package ramen noodles, discard seasoning packets
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
4 scallions (green onions), sliced thin
Sriracha hot sauce, for serving, optional

1.  In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil over medium to medium-high heat until it is hot and rippling. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper. Add the cubed chicken to the pan in a single layer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is browned and cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Remove the chicken to a medium bowl.

2.  Add the last tablespoon of oil to the skillet and heat until hot and rippling. Add the red bell pepper and the peanuts and cook until the pepper is softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the mixture into the bowl with the chicken, trying to leave as much oil as possible behind in the skillet.

3.  Add the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes to the remaining oil in the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in the chicken broth. Break the bricks of ramen into small chunks and add them to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, tossing the ramen constantly with tongs to separate, until ramen is just tender but there is still a bit of liquid in the pan, about 2-4 minutes.  (Noodles will continue to absorb extra liquid.)

4.  Stir in the hoisin sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil and continue to simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Stir in the chicken, peppers and peanuts. Sprinkle with green onions before serving.  Pass Sriracha hot sauce at the table to add to individual servings if desired.  
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