Anyone else have a constant jukebox running in their head? No? Just me? Alrighty then! For some reason, the song in the title of this post popped into my head today. Oh, I know why…it’s freaking hot outside! We are definitely in the midst of a heat wave here in New York and it is not so fun. Rather than going on another rant about how much I hate the heat, though, I’m going to tell you how I’m making this bearable. First of all, I’m trying to acclimate by going for a run three days a week. It’s way too hot to run for a really long time, but 30 minutes here and 45 minutes there has made me a little less of a sweaty mess when not running and it’s making my waistline a little less doughy. Win, win! I have also been known to take a cold pack from the freezer and put it behind my knees or neck. It works. Most importantly, we’re not cooking around here. Actually, I should say that we are doing the absolute minimal amount of cooking possible and under absolutely no circumstances are we turning the oven on. That would be grounds for getting banished from the apartment indefinitely.
In our quest to eat well without use of the oven and minimal use of the stove, we have had to get creative. We’ve come up with some really great meals that I think are worth sharing. I have big plans to go for a run then sprawl out in front of the fan for the rest of the day, though, so I’ll keep this post short and sweet and get right to the food.
Back when I was living and working in Dallas, my friend, Jessica, introduced me to a delicious Vietnamese spot and we would grab lunch there at least once a month. My favorite thing on the menu was a rice noodle salad that I only knew as bun…I couldn’t remember the rest of the name. Clearly my Vietnamese language skills are lacking. Anyway, I had a craving the other day so I went on a hunt for the noodles I remember so fondly and came across a recipe for bun with lemongrass chicken (bun ga nuong) from Nagi at RecipeTinEats (find it here). As with all recipes, I made some modifications. I don’t follow directions well. Anyway, here is the recipe as I made it. You can swap out the vegetables with whatever you like. Some recipes call for bean sprouts, some call for shredded lettuce, some don’t use mint. This really is adaptable and so incredibly refreshing for a hot summer dinner. Or, you can toss everything together for a nice side salad…it’s just so diverse!
Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Lemongrass Chicken (Bun Ga Nuong)
1 – 1.5 lbs boneless chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp Asian fish sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 stalk lemongrass, outer layer peeled so you only use white part, bruised by pounding with side of knife, & cut into big pieces
Sauce (Nuoc Cham)
1 cup hot water
½ cup white sugar
½ cup lime juice
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/3 cup Asian fish sauce
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 Thai chili or serrano chili, finely minced (I had serranos on hand and they worked well)
1 7-8 oz package rice vermicelli noodles
1 ½ cups shredded carrots
1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 handful fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 small or ½ large cucumber, thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced or julienned
5-6 green onions, sliced
1. Combine chicken and marinade ingredients and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
2. For sauce, whisk hot water and sugar together until sugar is dissolved. Once sugar is dissolved, add all other sauce ingredients and mix well. Set aside.
3. For noodles, boil enough water to cover the noodles. Once the water is boiling, remove from heat and place noodles in water to soak until al dente (3-7 minutes). When noodles are al dente, immediately drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking and prevent sticking.
4. In large skillet, cook chicken over medium heat until cooked through and golden brown, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Shake off any lemongrass bits and slice chicken.
5. In large bowl, toss noodles, cilantro, carrots, and about half of sauce until thoroughly combined.
6. To serve, portion noodles into bowls and top with vegetables and chicken. Garnish with lime wedges and side of additional sauce.
Enjoy, and stay cool!!!