Five Spice Chicken & Mushroom Noodle Bowl

One more day.  One more day until this apartment ceases to be my home.  To me, moving is bittersweet.  You say goodbye to the old place you’ve grown accustomed to and felt comfortable in, and go onward to the new strange place that is home, but doesn’t feel like it yet.

When I went off to college, my mom sold the house I had grown up in and moved as well.  I was sad to leave that house, filled with countless memories, because it was the only home I had ever really known.

This will be the first house I can call my home since then.  Right now, it doesn’t feel much like home, littered with half-unpacked boxes and kitchen supplies stacked in various corners.  Maybe it’s because none of our furniture is there yet.  I mean, how can you have a home without a bed or sofa, or any chairs?  Or a cute little bunny to greet you when you get home?

So I suppose time is needed.  Time to acclimate to my new surroundings.  I’m excited.  I’m nervous.  I want noodles.  Noodles are my all-time comfort food.  I ate them practically non-stop in Taiwan (in between sips of bubble tea) and I pretty much eat them whenever possible.

This recipe is kind of an Asian mash-up, featuring Chinese five-spice powder aka my own personal MSG and udon noodles, which are Japanese.  I suppose I could have used lo-mein noodles.  Oh well.  This noodle bowl contains sautéed mushrooms and chicken rubbed thoroughly with five-spice powder.  Plus a classic sauce and of course, scallions.  Ah yes, comfort food at its finest.  Now back to packing.

Five Spice Chicken & Mushroom Noodle Bowl

Adapted from Better Recipes

Makes about 3-4 servings

8oz udon, lo-mein or other medium sized noodle

1 lb thinly sliced chicken breasts or boneless thighs

2 Tbsp Chinese five-spice powder

8oz button or baby bella mushrooms, sliced

¼ cup veggie or peanut oil

4 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp sesame oil

1 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp sesame seeds

¼ cup chopped scallions for garnish

Prepare your noodles according to the instructions on their packaging.  While the noodles are cooking, make the sauce and prep the chicken.

Whisk the soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl; set aside.

Sprinkle both sides of the chicken pieces with the five-spice powder, and rub it in well.  Heat half the oil in a large skillet or wok. Add the chicken and cook over medium-high heat until browned and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.  Remove to a plate and set aside, leaving the drippings in the pan.

Heat the remaining half of the oil and add in the mushrooms.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until lightly browned and tender, about 5-8 minutes.

Add the noodles into the pan, then pour the sauce over the noodles, stirring to coat.  Add the chicken back in and toss the mixture until the sauce thickens a bit, about 3-5 minutes.

Transfer the noodles to bowls and garnish with chopped scallions and sesame seeds.  Enjoy your comfort noodles!

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Scallion Pancakes

I just vested and juiced 13 limes.  Check it.

 I am a zealous zester.

Once these freeze, transfer to a Ziploc bag so you don’t have to thaw them all out at once.

 Why does this lime look like a strange sea critter?

Another green item I would buy from the Asian market in bulk are scallions.  As it is, I can get a bunch of them for $.50.  So that works.  What would I do with that many scallions anyway?  I really should not be asking myself that question…who knows what I might come up with.

When I was in Taiwan, one of my favorite snacks were these spiral buns flecked with scallions.  They were puffy and soft, with, like eating a scallion-laden cloud.  While I have attempted to recreate them in America (I have bought frozen buns of a similar variety, but they just didn’t have the same flavor), I did make something like their second cousin.

Little scallion snail!

Scallion pancakes are common in many types of Asian cuisine, probably because they’re so delicious.  People know when they’ve got a good thing going.  The dough comes together in a snap, requires minimal resting time (no yeast necessary) and is fun to work with…unlike some incredibly sticky and difficult yeast dough I’ve faced.

Then you pan-fry them, and they are good to go!  The outer layers are crispy, but the inner layers are soft, all the while, there are scallions everywhere.  You can eat them on their own, or with curry, soup, or Beijing (Peking) duck!  I am so glad I made these, and will definitely continue to make them…even if I find a way to make the scallion buns from Taiwan.  There absolutely is room in my heart for more than one scallion goodie.

Scallion Pancakes

Adapted from Crepes of Wrath (love this blog!)

Makes 6-7 pancakes

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out
1 cup hot water
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for frying
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
6 scallions, sliced thinly

In the bowl of your food processor or blender, add your flour then gradually add in the hot water, pulsing as you go, until the dough comes together – you may not need all of the water.

Lightly flour your work surface, then turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough by slightly stretching it and folding it back into itself a few times, until it becomes smooth enough to form into a ball. Lightly oil a medium sized bowl and place the dough in it. Cover the bowl with a damp towel or cloth and allow to rest for 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into 6 equal sized pieces, then roll each piece into a ball. Roll out each ball into a 5-inch in diameter circle. Combine the olive oil and sesame oil, then brush it onto the pancake, followed by a sprinkling of salt and a generous sprinkling of sliced scallions. Roll the pancake up, then curl it into itself, like a snail (see the photo above). Roll the dough out again into a circle. Continue with all of the pancakes.

Heat a large skillet and heat your olive oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add in your pancakes, 2 or 3 at a time (I could only do one at a time), for 4-5 minutes on each side, until golden. Place the pancakes on a surface lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil from the pancakes.