Cold Cucumber Noodle Salad with Hoisin Ginger Chicken Skewers

Add 4 chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks, to a ziplock bag with their marinade: a 1-inch chunk of ginger, minced; 2 garlic cloves, minced; 1/4 cup hoisin sauce; 1 T Thai chili garlic sauce (or 1/2 t red pepper flakes); 1/2 t fish sauce; and 1 t rice wine vinegar. Seal the bag and squish the ingredients around to combine, then leave the bag in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to one day.

Next, cook 2 portions of frozen udon noodles according to package instructions. (We get these at our local Asian grocery and cook them in boiling water for 2 minutes.) Season with 2 T rice wine vinegar, 1/2 t fish sauce, 2 t canola oil and a scant sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Cut one medium-sized cucumber into thin half-moon slices. Add to the noodles with 2 T toasted sesame seeds and toss. Set aside in the fridge.

Soak 3-4 wooden skewers in water for 15 minutes to keep them from burning on the grill. Then take the chicken out of the fridge and thread it onto the skewers. Cook the meat on a hot charcoal or gas grill until charred. (Pro tip: Chicken thighs sometimes look undercooked because they contain dark meat, but they’re usually done before you think they are).

Serve the chicken over the cold noodle salad. Enjoy!


Some words on Asian grocery stores: You must go to one.

That Thai chili garlic sauce I mentioned above? Ridiculously good on everything. Fish sauce? An amazingly flavorful way to replace salt. Hoisin? Asian BBQ sauce. Frozen udon noodles? You’ve got to be kidding me– these things taste homemade and they are ready in 2 minutes. They’re the ultimate drunk food for 1/4 the cost.

Yes, Asian grocery stores can be intimidating for the average Western grocery shopper. But if you’re willing to feel a little bit uncomfortable, you’ll find so many wonderful things to try. Prices for meat and produce, especially, are much, much cheaper than you’ll find nearly anywhere else. And you’ll also notice that the options are generally healthier than your average grocery store, too: There are fewer processed foods and more rice-based products. There’s usually an entire aisle of tea options and a full wall of frozen dumplings you’ll be dying to try. Heading to the asian grocery store is a way to explore a foreign country without the plane ticket. DO IT.

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