Curried Chicken & Noodles in Coconut Sauce

  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 Tbsp curry powder (use a good brand, such as Penzey’s)
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 14-oz cans unsweetened coconut milk (shake can well before using)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass
  • 10 slices of fresh gingerroot, each 1/8” thick, peeled and smashed lightly with a meat pounder or heavy pan
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 whole chicken breast with skin and bones (about 1 pound)
  • 1/2 lb. dried rice-stick noodles (rice vermicelli)
  • 6 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 6 Tbsp Asian fish sauce (nuoc mam)
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh coriander
  • Asian chili oil (optional)
  • Trim the ends of the lemon grass. Discard outer leaves and finely mince the bottom 5” of the stalks.

    In a heavy saucepan cook the garlic in the vegetable oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until fragrant. Add the curry powder, and cook the mixture, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in the broth, coconut milk, water, lemongrass, gingerroot, and peppercorns and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the chicken and poach at a bare simmer for 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Transfer the chicken with a slotted spoon to a bowl and let cool. Strain liquid and return to saucepan. Keeping liquid warm.

    While the chicken is cooling, in a large bowl soak the noodles in warm water to cover for 5 minutes then drain. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil and cook noodles for 5 minutes. Drain the noodles in a colander, rinse under cold water, and drain again.

    Discard the skin and bones from the chicken, shred the meat using 2 forks to pull the meat apart, and stir into warm poaching liquid. Add lime juice and fish sauce. Cook the soup over moderate heat, stirring, until very hot.

    Divide the noodles and watercress among 6 to 8 bowls, and ladle the soup over noodles. Sprinkle the soup with the coriander and drizzle it with the chili oil, if desired.

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