Cold Rice Noodles with Chicken

Dipping Sauce

6 T. Asian fish sauce*
6 T. brown sugar
12 T. lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 or 2 serrano chiles, thinly sliced or to taste

Peanut Dressing

3 T. Asian fish sauce
3 T. rice vinegar*
9 T. lime juice
3 T. soy sauce
1 one-and-a-half inch chunk of ginger, peeled and sliced
6 T. creamy peanut butter
1 T. toasted sesame oil*
Pinch of cayenne

Chicken and noodle salad

1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6)
8 oz. dried Asian rice noodles (vermicelli style)*
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin julienne
4 scallions, slivered
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
Fresh basil, cilantro or mint leaves for garnish

*I found all of these ingredients in the Asian section of a large supermarket.

To make the dipping sauce: whisk all ingredients together in a bowl, making sure to dissolve sugar. Let sit to ripen for 15 minutes.

To make the peanut dressing: In a food processor puree all ingredients until smooth, about the thickness of heavy cream. Pour into a serving bowl.

To marinate the chicken: Stir together 1/2 of the dipping sauce and 1/3 of the peanut dressing (you can approximate) in the bottom of a dish. Add chicken and toss to coat. Allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes.

To cook the noodles: bring a large pot of water to a boil and turn off the heat. Add the noodles and soak for 7 to 8 minutes. Drain when noodles are al dente and cool under running water. Fluff and allow to thoroughly drain in colander.

Grill chicken until nicely browned, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Let cool slightly and chop roughly into 3/4-inch pieces.

Now, you can assemble the salad in various ways: you can place everything on a large serving platter with neat piles of vegetables, chicken and noodles and let people assemble their own bowls, or you can assemble each bowl like the one above, in which case you do the following:

Toss vegetables with 1 T. dipping sauce in a small bowl. Divide the cooked noodles among 4 to 6 bowls. Top each bowl equally with vegetable mixture and chopped chicken. Drizzle each bowl with about 2 t. each of the sauces. Top with the herbs, peanuts and scallions and serve with the additional sauces on the side.

Serves 4 to 6. At our house it generously served 4 with leftovers for Champ and me the next night.