This month, we start with a simple White-Cooked Chicken, a dead simple way of simmering chicken in water which is also foolproof—the white and dark meat end up being cooked perfectly at the same time. The resulting chicken broth is used to make a double batch of rice (also used for Thai-Style Fried Rice on Thursday), for a soup (freeze leftover broth to keep it fresh tasting), and also for a Miso-Ginger Salad on Wednesday. We also start the week with a double batch of Peanut-Sesame Noodles—both the sauce and the noodles can be used separately to prepare Peanut-Sesame Salmon (Monday) and Indonesian-Style Fried Noodles (Tuesday).
This gentle Chinese approach to cooking chicken produces juicy, tender meat and a flavorful broth, which will be used for a soup later in the week. Or use the rich broth to cook a double batch of rice (easy in the large pot used for the chicken). Eat a portion of the rice with dinner if you're not eating the peanut-sesame noodles, and save the rest for the week ahead.
The bold sauce in this recipe pairs as well with chewy noodles as it does with proteins. Make a double batch of the entire recipe, mixing half of the sauce and noodles together, and reserving the rest separately. Save the second half of the sauce in an airtight jar, and toss the noodles with oil before storing them (they’ll stick together without the oil).
The rest of the week...
MONDAY: Miso-Ginger Chicken Salad
Use all the leftover meat from the white-poached chicken (or, if you’ve run out, rotisserie chicken works well too). In a blender, combine ¼ cup of the water, ⅓ cup miso, 1½ tablespoons chopped ginger, ⅓ cup almonds, the lime juice, mustard, honey, and ½ teaspoon ground white pepper. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Add ½ cup oil and continue to blend until the mixture is thick and well combined, about 1 minute. While the dressing mellows, finely shred 4 to 6 cups of cabbage (Napa, red or green) and, if you like, add shredded carrots, slivered sugar snap peas, bean sprouts and cashews. Toss with the dressing and shredded chicken, serving any additional sauce on the side.
TUESDAY: Indonesian-Style Fried Noodles
Feel free to add shrimp, chicken, tofu or tempeh. In a small bowl, blend 2 tablespoons soy sauce with 1½ teaspoons brown sugar, the juice of 1 lime, 1 tablespoon water and chili-garlic sauce or Sriracha to taste. In a nonstick 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add 1 bunch of chopped scallions and 1 finely sliced red bell pepper and sauté until beginning to brown. Add 2 minced garlic cloves, cook briefly, then toss in the chilled udon noodles and, if you like, defrosted frozen peas or edamame. Once the noodles are beginning to brown in spots and crisp about the edges, 3 to 5 minutes, coat with the sauce. Serve immediately, adding a fried egg to each serving.
WEDNESDAY: Peanut-Sesame Salmon
We love peanut-sesame sauce with salmon, but it also works well with chicken, pork, tofu and tempeh (if you object to the mild flavor and soft texture of tofu, nutty, firm tempeh is a great alternative. Cube it, season generously and pan-fry crisp before using). Try our foolproof approach to moist and flavorful salmon fillets. Season four 6-ounce salmon fillets generously with salt and pepper. In a nonstick 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Place the salmon flesh side down in the pan, then immediately reduce to medium. Cook, undisturbed, until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, carefully flip the fillets, then cover the pan and remove from the heat. Let stand until the thickest part of the fillets reach 120°F or are nearly opaque when cut into, about another 5 minutes for 1-inch-thick fillets or about 8 minutes if 1¼ inches thick. Serve drizzled with peanut-sesame sauce and, if you like, rice and sautéed chard or blanched green beans flavored with ginger, scallions and soy.
THURSDAY: Basic Thai-Style Fried Rice
Mastering fried rice is an ace up your sleeve—a basic technique with an infinite number of flavorings. The rice cooked in chicken broth will be particularly good when fried. Feel free to add shredded chicken or small shrimp.
In a small bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon fish sauce and 1 teaspoon each soy sauce and sugar. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil until just smoking. Pour in 2 lightly beaten eggs and cook, stirring, until just set. Transfer the eggs to a plate. Add 1½ tablespoons more oil to the skillet and return to medium-high. Add 1 bunch chopped scallions, then cook until softened, about 1 minute. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir the fish sauce mixture, then pour over the rice. Cook, stirring, until well mixed. Stir in the egg. Serve with sliced cucumber, lime wedges and hot sauce.
Friday: Rice Soup with Bok Choy and Mushrooms
Simple rice-and-broth soups are prepared throughout Asia. Use the leftover broth from the poached chicken (adding water if necessary to pump up the volume). Feel free to add cubed tofu to bulk up the soup. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, combine enough broth and water to make 8 cups with 1½ cups long-grain rice and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce to low, cover and simmer, stirring once or twice, until the rice is tender, about 8 minutes. While the rice cooks, in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil until just smoking. Add 8 ounces stemmed and sliced shiitake mushrooms and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until softened and shrunken in size, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger. Turn off the heat, stir in the bok choy and set aside until the rice is ready.
When the rice is tender, quickly stir in the bok choy mixture. Turn off the heat, cover and let stand until the bok choy stems are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Taste and season with salt and white pepper. Drizzle with sesame oil.