Two weeks ago I featured a charred squid dish that was the creation of Pim Techamuanvivit and Mike Gaines. They are the two chefs that run Khin Kao restaurant in San Francisco. They pride themselves on authentic Thai food (they disdain the "tyranny of peanut sauce") and they have hit another home run with this chicken and noodle salad.
The key ingredient here is the fish sauce. And as I have campaigned for years, you owe it to yourself to have a gazillion bottles of Red Boat Fish Sauce in your pantry. It is made in the tradition of a fine wine, aged in barrels for a year. There is nothing else like it when it comes to fish sauce.
8 ounces rice noodles
3 tablespoons fish sauce, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 jalapeño or other small, mild chili, roughly chopped
1 birds eye chili or other small dried, red chili, torn
1½ poached, roasted or grilled skinless chicken breasts
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small English cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
½ cup roughly chopped cilantro
½ cup roughly chopped mint
½ cup roughly chopped Thai or other basil
- Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Boil noodles until tender but still al dente, 3-4 minutes. Drain and run noodles under cold water to cool. Toss noodles dry and set aside.
- Meanwhile, make the dressing: Place ¼ cup fish sauce, sugar, lime juice and both chilies in a blender or food processor. Blend until chilies break up and sauce looks uniform. Set sauce aside. Shred and roughly chop chicken into bite-size pieces.
- In a large bowl, toss shredded chicken with cooled noodles, shallots, oil, cucumbers, tomatoes and herbs. Toss in dressing until well incorporated. Taste and add more fish sauce or lime juice as needed. Serve at room temperature or cold.
Pairing: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc