Monday, August 15, 2016

Pang Pang Chicken Noodle Salad...


Sweltering humidity describes this summer to a tee! Who wants to cook in this heat and add more hot with the kitchen elements? My mind has been on cool and this dish leaped to the front instantly-- drool, with all its alluring hearty ingredients, flavours and crunch. Pang pang aka bang bang chicken is a street vendor's cold salad dish (shredded chicken mixed with cucumbers, toppings and sesame sauce) from the Szechuan region of China. Interestingly, the name does not come from its peppery-hot sesame dressing, but from the wooden stick (pang in Mandarin) that is used to beat the chicken (thus bang bang) to tenderize and loosen its fibres. Luckily, we don't have tough chicken here :). 

I've had a similar profile cold dish in Northern-style Chinese restaurants with shredded pork, chopped garlic, and cilantro in a tangy sesame sauce served on top of green bean (mung bean) noodles or Tientsin Fen Pi which literally means skin of flour- thin, clear and flat with nary to chew. Marrying the best of both extraordinary dishes-- chicken with the noodles, I came up with this irresistible combination which is also a crowd-pleaser; a unique potluck dish to bring or serve at the table or picnic buffet-style. Refrigerate for at least an hour to welcome the cold. How's that for beating the heat?


Pang Pang Chicken Noodle Salad
Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 large or 4 regular chicken breasts (1-1/2 lb.)
1 pkg. (250 g) dried green bean noodles or ready prepared green bean noodles

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced into strips
4-5 garlic cloves, minced (I love it extra garlicky)
1 thick slice gingerroot, minced (optional) *serve on the side as it can be too strong and raw for young taste buds
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed, chopped

Dressing (adjust to your liking- more vinegar for tangy, more sesame paste for nutty):
1/3 cup tahini sesame paste or prepared Chinese sesame paste
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar or Chinkiang black vinegar
1/4 cup cold water

a splash of fresh lemon juice
a few dash of ground white pepper
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. sesame oil

toasted sesame seeds
chili oil with seeds (served at the table)


Bring water in a saucepan to boil to cover the chicken two-inches. Simmer, covered for about five minutes or until thoroughly cooked. Remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes; remove and let cool. 

Meanwhile, if using dried noodles, soak in hot water 15 minutes or until soft and transluscent. Add to saucepan of boiled chicken water; cook one minute or just until tender. Drain in colander and let cool. 


If using ready prepared green bean noodles (sometimes they call it jelly), unroll the slab of noodle, and cut into long noodles or into square pieces. Place into serving bowl or on platter.


Thinly slice the cucumbers into strips. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. salt over the cucumber and mix well. Set over a colander so the water could ooze out. After ten minutes, rinse in cold water to rid of the salt and squeeze out excess water. Going against the grain, shred the chicken into strips with your hands. 




Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Stir the tahini well in its jar or Chinese sesame paste and add amount to mixing bowl. Mix all dressing ingredients together except sesame seeds and chili oil. (Don't worry if the dressing separates- stir well all the ingredients and it'll blend back smoothly). Adjust to your taste preference- more vinegar for tangy, more sesame paste for nutty).


Top noodles with chicken, then drizzle with 1/3 of the sesame sauce. Add cucumbers, garlic and ginger (optional or for the table). Drizzle with 1/3 more of the sauce. Garnish with cilantro and green onions. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve remaining dressing and chili oil at the table for people to add themselves. Best to refrigerate salad for an hour for flavours to meld and for dish to cool before serving! Tastes more refreshing that way!


A party of flavours and textures mingling in tangy sesame dressing over refreshing cool noodles!! Ooo!! If you love garlic, this dish is heavenly with loads of it minced!! Crazy good!



Digging in with minced ginger, chili oil and extra sesame dressing at the table to help yourself!


Mix all the goodness up and you are ready to start slurping!



Ha-- exactly two years ago today-- August 15th, 2014, I had posted these following pictures for this very recipe (which I revised and now updated with current photos). It goes to show some food are never far from mind and are revitalized when the proper mood or circumstance arises (even if it took two years). And in this case, the situation is the summer heat. And really what better to cool down the body than with something refreshingly cool that requires minimum cooking (just the chicken) and loaded with crunch and greens/herbs?

Pang Pang Chicken Salad made with dried mung bean noodles.
Love my pretty ceramic plate I picked up in Oporto, Portugal.


Sebastien enjoying noodles today as he did
two years ago in this photo (age 5)!






















Make In Advance TIP: This dish can be prepared hours in advance with dressing on the side and refrigerated, covered, until ready to serve.




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