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Asian Chicken Soup with Nyumen Noodles Recipe

I love Japanese and Chinese noodle soups almost as much as I like stir fry. The flavors are simple, pleasing and sustaining while still managing to be very light, something most American soups and stews cannot accomplish. This is an Asian inspired soup. This dish was not made from any traditional recipe, I just added flavors that remind me of other soups I’ve had in the past and with a pretty good result if I do-say-so-myself.

If you’re looking at the title and wondering where to get yourself some nyumen noodles or why you’ve never heard of them, they are simply somen noodles served warm. The Japanese are famous for giving a whole new term to something if it’s prepared differently, and this is one of those cases.

This meal actually started its life as a stir fry, but just as I was getting ready to go to it, my wife mentioned that she’d like a soup. In my mind there really wasn’t an issue there, and I grabbed the last of my somen from the pantry and put it on to boil, using a method I learned several years ago for cooking udon noodles, which I will detail below.


Asian Chicken Soup with Nyumen Noodles Recipe
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, torn or cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into 2? long strips
  • 1 red onion, cut into 2? long strips (halved, quartered and then chopped into half moons)
  • 10 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • 1/8 cup roasted garlic rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp crushed chili flakes
  • 1 can chicken stock + 1 can water
  • 2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 bunch somen noodles
  • salt and pepper to taste
Method
  1. Bring 3 quarts water just to a boil in a large pot. Add noodles and return to a boil.
  2. Add 1 cup cold water, return to a boil.
  3. Add 1 cup cold water, return to a boil.
  4. Add 1 cup cold water, return to a boil.
  5. Cook until desired doneness, remove immediately and rinse under cold running water until rinse water runs clear.
  6. Noodles may be served cold, or used as an addition to a soup.
Soup:
  1. Place chicken pieces in a bowl with soy sauce, vinegar, pepper and red chili flakes. Set aside while prepping all other vegetables. (May be made up to an hour in advance.)
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat until extremely hot. Add oil, let stand until oil shimmers, but does not smoke.
  3. Add chicken and marinade, stirring constantly until chicken pieces are well browned. Add mushrooms, stirring constantly until caramelized and reduced in size by 1/2.
  4. Add onions, peppers and a good pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently until onions are nearly translucent and crisp-tender. Add chicken stock, stirring vigorously and scraping the bottom of the skillet until all browned bits have been absorbed by liquid.
  5. Add water, stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
  6. Add noodles to a large serving bowl, pour soup mixture over noodles and stir.
  7. Serve immediately.

What I would have done differently had I thought of it at the time:

In the end I found the broth to be just a bit bland. I think next time I’ll empty the contents of the skillet first and saute some onions, garlic and a bit of ginger before deglazing, and perhaps add just a bit more vinegar. Other than that, this soup was just the right choice for a not-so-warm afternoon, and gave my chopstick chops a workout, which they definitely need before my wife and I visit the Mongolian Barbecue or Samurai Sakura restaurants again. (There’s something to be said for tradition, but forks aren’t even an option in these two places…)

The method I used for the noodles is a bit labor intensive, but it keeps the noodles from getting over-soggy in the broth. I’m not sure why this is, but it works, and I’m not arguing with it.

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