chicken noodle stirfry

stirfried noodles

Last week, after Thanksgiving, I absconded with my father’s copy of Fuchsia Dunlop’s Hunanese cookbook. I gave it to him for Christmas last year but don’t have a copy myself, so I spent the holiday sighing over the recipes until he offered to let me borrow it for a while. Ha!

I adore Dunlop’s Sichuan cookbook and make stuff from it constantly, but I’ve been intrigued by the spicy, yet more subtle flavors of Hunan. Some of the recipes use pungent ingredients like preserved vegetables, fermented tofu and salted chiles, but many are very simple and lightly flavored with soy, rice wine and aromatics. It seemed like the perfect type of food to make in the inevitable detox weeks after Thanksgiving.

chicken noodle

The first thing I cooked, after we got home and I was feeling a bit frail, was this lovely chicken and mushroom stir-fry with rice noodles. The recipe called for dried shiitakes, which I don’t have, so I used the excellent fresh shiitakes that are grown locally. I was also delighted to find thin-cut chicken breasts at our Co-op, which made it easy to sliver the chicken. The dish was very good, full of vegetables, and refreshing after a long week of heavy eating, with just a little kick of spice to keep it interesting.

Stir-fried rice noodles with chicken and mushrooms

adapted from Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook

  • 1 lb chicken breast, cut into slivers
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine
  • about 10 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 pound rice noodles
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp salted chiles (I haven’t made these yet, so I used Thai pickled chiles)
  • 1 package bean sprouts
  • 3 scallions, cut into 1 inch lengths
  • soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • sweet chile sauce (optional)

Combine the sliced chicken in a bowl with the soy sauce and rice wine, mix well and set aside.

Cook the rice noodles in boiling water until just done, drain and rinse. (I know everyone always says to just soak them, but I’ve tried this and I’m tired of crunchy noodles)

Put a large wok over high heat and add a couple spoonfuls of peanut oil. Add the chicken and fry until the pieces separate, then add the mushrooms, ginger, garlic, and chiles. When the mushrooms are soft, add the bean sprouts and cook for a moment, then add the noodles and scallions and mix it all up. Add a bit more soy sauce and a little sesame oil to taste. Serve as is, or with additional soy sauce or Thai sweet chile sauce (what we call “sauce for chicken” in our house).

liquid breakfast

makin' smoothies

Eons ago, on our honeymoon, Jon and I stayed at a wonderful place in the San Juan Islands called the Inn at Swifts Bay. It was a charming little B&B with a hot tub tucked back in the woods and a movie library of great quality – and the breakfasts were amazing. It was fifteen years ago and I still remember some of the food (I told you I had food on the brain, didn’t I?). One thing that made a huge impression on us both was the smoothie that kicked off each morning’s dining. Served in a large goblet, it was a puree of peach, a whole lime, banana, and pineapple. It was divine, and as soon as we were settled in our new (married student housing) apartment and owned a blender, we started making them for ourselves.

breakfast smoothie

These days I can’t eat peaches (and pineapple makes my mouth feel a little odd, too), and I usually prefer a glass of orange juice with a hot breakfast than a full-on smoothie, but we still make smoothies on weekdays, especially if we’re feeling a little frail and dehydrated. Every summer I buy flats of local berries and freeze them, so all winter we can mix berries with mangoes, oranges or bananas for a variety of flavors. My usual smoothie formula for the two of us is something like: 1-2 cups fruit, half a cup of full-fat yogurt, half a cup of orange juice, two scoops of vanilla-flavored whey protein powder, and water to dilute and top up.

It’s easy, tasty and restorative. Always a good backup during the holidays, when one sometimes needs a bit of restoring.