January 2009 Dinner Spree: Sauteed Chicken with Herbed Soba

Tonight’s main recipe came from the same issue of Everyday Food as last night’s. It’s still not online, but I’m telling you, subscribe. This was another simple one: boil some soba noodles and make a sauce for it with cilantro, parsley, garlic, ginger, scallions, vinegar and oil; sautee some chicken cutlets and slice thin; and serve them together. I also made some kale with red pepper flakes, because the recipe promised to have green leaves but not leafy greens otherwise.

I took a bit longer than my allotted hour, but I could have done some preparatory things to shorten the time. I had to rinse, stem and chop the kale; I could have done that over the weekend and used ziplock bags to keep the greens fresh and ready. In fact I only used half the bunch tonight, so now I have a ziplock bag of the good green ready to just steam or sautee as I require. I also could have made a full recipe of the sauce, or more, and saved the extra for use another time; it wouldn’t have taken much more time to prep the cilantro and other ingredients, but it would have made for more efficient use of the food processor. With a small batch I had to keep scraping down the sides so it wasn’t all just spinning away from the blades.

Here are some of the ingredients as I did my prep:


Kale, not yet stemmed

Here I want to call out a nifty little device I hadn’t really tried out. It’s a stainless steel odor remover. I got it free from some cookbook club, and haven’t really taken the time to use it. The idea is that when you handle redolent foods like garlic and onions, regular washing won’t get all the odor, but if you just rub the steel oval in your hands it will neutralize the volatile oils. So I tried it after mincing some fresh ginger root, which is mighty redolent indeed, and it worked.

I also had to pound the chicken breasts thin. The recipe calls for cutlets, but packaged cutlets cost about $2.50 more per pound than the breasts I bought, and it only took a few minutes with some wax paper and my good friend Mr. Rolling Pin to flatten them out so they would cook quickly. OK, the cats didn’t approve of the thumping noise, but it was pretty easy.

The kale wasn’t part of the EF recipe. I’ve been making this by rote for years now; I think I originally got it from Natural Health, back when it was really a substantial health magazine and hadn’t transformed itself into a clone of Organic Style. Basically you stem a bunch of kale and chop or tear the leaves into moderately sized pieces, and let the rinse water cling to them. Heat a pan with some oil (I used a combination of canola oil and sesame oil, so the sesame oil flavor wouldn’t be too overpowering), and toss in some red pepper flakes. And some minced garlic, if you remembered to mince a clove in addition to the one that goes into the sauce and do not get all lazy because you’ve washed the cutting board already. Let those brown for a few moments and then add the kale carefully (water droplets will sizzle a bit), saute it briefly, and then add about 1/4 cup of water, cover the pan, lower the heat, and let it steam for about 10 minutes or so.  (If you turn off the heat by the 10-minute mark, you can let it sit a bit longer without it overcooking.)

Once the soba noodles were done I mixed them with the sauce. It took a little effort to get it to distribute evenly, but look how pretty:

And here’s the plated meal:

Scott demonstrated his impeccable sense of timing by walking in the door as I was just minutes away from slicing the chicken and serving up. He was happy not to have been late for this.

I’ll definitely be making this again. You could substitute fried tofu or seitan for the chicken; you could probably also use mild white fish, though I’d probably add extra lemon to balance the flavors.

4 Responses to “January 2009 Dinner Spree: Sauteed Chicken with Herbed Soba”

  1. Sally says:

    Two thoughts. No. Three.

    1) Thank you again for the subscription to this magazine. I cannot tell you enough how much I enjoy/appreciate it.

    2) Dave pounds out chicken cutlets on our kitchen counters with a big mallet and OUR cats hang out and demand chicken despite the banging. We’ve never given them any, so I don’t know why they think they’d like it.

    3) I cannot stand cilantro. I’ve been pondering whether the noodles would be any good without it. Your thoughts?

  2. 1) You’re welcome!

    2) A mallet might have been faster, and the whole thing would probably have been quieter if our cabinets were made of better materials. I think the cats were mainly annoyed that I was disturbing naptime.

    3) That’s a tricky one; you would want to substitute something, but I’m not sure what. Basil would make for a sort of gingery pesto, which could be nice but not really the same; arugula could be a good substitution. I guess which direction you take it depends on what else you’re serving and how the flavor would complement that.

  3. This was 157 types of delicious.

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