Chicken Dinner, Part III

Monday, November 1, 2010

As noted previously (I think), I usually save the breasts from a whole chicken to use in a recipe calling specifically for chicken breasts, like my very favorite hoisin chicken recipe, but I did cook them with the chicken and dumplings this time. However after trying to eat the meat as part of the meal, I realized that I don’t actually like breast meat just by itself. There’s too much of it and I prefer dark meat.

So I fished out the breasts and took the meat off the bone and chopped it and stuck it in the freezer. I got about 3 cups of meat from the giant stewing hen. I also skimmed off about a third of a cup of fat and stuck that in the freezer as well.

The week after making the chicken and dumplings I bought a very small cabbage to use for coleslaw. The danger with cabbage is that it keeps well, which means that I’m extremely likely to forget about it, because there’s no pressing need to use it up quickly. But I ended up with a bunch of things I needed to go through quickly in the fridge, so I added the cabbage to the list of things to not forget about.

When I was doing the Dollar a Day project, one of the few actual “recipes” I made was yakisoba, which a friend who had lived in Japan told me I needed to make when she saw that I had pasta, carrots, and cabbage. It was definitely one of the best things I ate.

I was trying to think of what to do with the rest of my cabbage when I remembered the yakisoba and realized I had everything I needed to make that, including chicken in the freezer from the chicken and dumplings.

So I looked up some recipes online and did a combination of a few I saw and what I remember from making it before. This is a pretty flexible dish. I aimed for 2 to 3 servings, and ended up getting two large servings out of one cup of chicken. I also used some of the chicken fat to fry with. And I don’t know if it was the chicken fat or what, but it tasted really, really good.

You can search for “yakisoba” to see different versions, but this is basically what I did.

Japanese Fried Noodles
2 largish or 3 smallish servings

4 oz. pasta or noodles (spaghetti, linguine, udon noodles, soba noodles, etc.)
1 clove garlic and/or 1 small onion, minced
2 to 3 tsp minced ginger
1/4 small head of cabbage, coarsely chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup cooked chicken, diced or shredded
1 to 2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 to 2 tsp sesame oil (optional)
1 to 2 tsp chili paste with garlic (optional)
1 to 2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
1/2 to 1 tsp hot chili oil (optional)
1 to 2 Tbsp fat or oil for frying (possibly more — I started with just under a tablespoon but that wasn’t enough, I added more to make sure everything was coated and frying properly)

Cook the pasta; when al dente, drain and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, peel and slice the carrots and chop the cabbage. (Quantities don’t really matter — you can use more or less vegetables, or different vegetables or whatever. This is just what I used.)

Mince the garlic and grate the ginger. (I used a garlic press for the garlic and a rasp-type grater for the ginger. You could also add a minced jalapeno pepper or other hot pepper in with the garlic and ginger.)

Put the fat or oil in a wok or large skillet and heat over high heat, until the oil is very hot.

Put the garlic and ginger in the hot oil and cook for a minute or two — until fragrant but not browned. Put the carrots and cabbage in the pan and cook for a minute or two until they’re just tender. Add the pasta and cooked chicken and mix everything together so it’s coated with oil. Add soy sauce plus any (or all) of the following: sesame oil, chili paste with garlic, crushed red pepper, and/or chili oil. Stir everything together and heat through.

Serve immediately, adding more soy sauce or other seasonings to taste.