Light, healthy, visually tempting and so delicious, Asian cuisine is always welcome at my house. Using my well-seasoned wok, I often make stir-fry. Quick and easy, stir-frying is a great way to use up odd amounts of fresh vegetables — a carrot or two, half a cabbage, a few sweet peppers, mushrooms and scallions, some minced garlic and ginger. Searing them in the wok takes only a few minutes. Toss in some leftover grilled chicken or fish, a splash of soy sauce and some toasted sesame seeds. Bring it all together with a large bowl of steamed rice, and dinner is ready.
On the weekends, I might make sushi. A bit more time consuming, but well worth the effort — it’s really easier than you think. You can even purchase pre-cooked sushi rice. Publix has brown and white sushi rice, ready to roll. I especially like the creative art of making sushi, the interplay of colors, tastes and textures. What’s really great is that you can eliminate the things you don’t enjoy — like those imitation crab sticks. A California roll with fresh jumbo lump crab and perfectly ripe avocado is real sushi. By selecting your own seafood, there’s no wondering about freshness. You can pile the fresh salmon roe on your ikura sushi and sear your tuna to perfection.
Beyond stir-frying, basic sushi, Thai lettuce wraps and spring rolls, I have to admit that my repertoire of Asian dishes is not extensive. With Asian noodles seemingly more popular than ever, and motivated recently by a friend’s delicious pho, I decided to get better acquainted with this oriental comfort food.
The result was superb, light and intriguing. Thinly sliced sweet onions were first sautéed with garlic and ginger. Free-range chicken breast slices and stock were added along with mushrooms, carrots, kale, and lime zest. The soup was seasoned with curry powder, kosher salt and fresh white pepper. When the chicken was tender, maifun rice noodles were added. Slices of lime for bright acidity, green onions for color and texture, and minced hot peppers for heat, were served on the side.
From ramen to soba and udon, fragrant and enticing, healthy and comforting, Asian noodles are fun and delicious.
Asian Noodle Soup with Chicken and Mushrooms
To prepare the soup
- 1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1-2 skinless free-range chicken breasts, diagonally sliced ½ inch thick
- 2 quarts free-range organic chicken stock (Imagine brand)
- 1½ cups carrots, sliced diagonally
- ¼ pound fresh crimini or baby portabella mushrooms, stems cut flush with the caps, then wiped clean and sliced
- 2-3 cups chopped curly kale leaves, ribs removed
- ½ teaspoon curry powder
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- grated zest of 1 lime
- 4 ounces maifun noodles (Annie Chun’s)
In a large heavy pot, heat the olive oil and add the onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Cover the pot and simmer on low until they soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add the sliced chicken, chicken stock, carrots, mushrooms, kale, curry powder, ginger, and lime zest. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a low simmer. With the pot partially covered, simmer until the chicken is tender. Skim off any scum that rises to the top of the soup. Add the noodles and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir the noodles to separate them.
- hot peppers, minced
- 3 green onions, washed and sliced diagonally
- 2 limes, quartered
Spoon the soup into wide individual bowls. Squeeze lime juice over the broth. Sprinkle with green onions and hot peppers to taste.