Soba Chicken Salad with Snow and Snap Peas

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup light soy sauce, or to taste
6 Tbsp Japanese clear rice vinegar
2 Tbsp mirin (or rice wine or sake, mixed with 1 Tbs. sugar)
1-1/2 Tbsp sugar
3/4 lb. snow or snap peas, ends snapped and veiny strings removed
12 oz soba noodles
1 lb. cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin julienne strips
6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
4 scallions, white parts only, cut into 1-inch pieces (reserve the greens for the garnish, and cut into 1/4-inch sections)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp olive or canola oil
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce

DIRECTIONS:

Make the dressing - combine all ingredients in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves.

Spicy pesto - drop the garlic, scallion whites, and red pepper flakes down the feed tube of a food processor while the motor is running and chop finely. Open the bowl and add the basil leaves. Pulse, turning the machine on and off, then slowly pour the sesame and olive oil down the feed tube and chop the mixture to a fine paste. Add the lemon juice and soy sauce and continue blending until the mixture is a fairly smooth paste.

Salad - bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the snow peas and cook for 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon and drain in a strainer or colander under cold running water. Bring the water to a boil again and add the soba noodles. Once the water boils again, cook for 3-1/2 minutes, or until al dente. Drain in a colander and rinse the noodles under warm running water. Drain again.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the cooked soba noodles with the pesto mixture. Arrange in a large shallow bowl or platter. Sprinkle the snap peas evenly over the noodles, followed by the julienned chicken, and finishing with the scallion greens. Serve the dressing on the side in a sauce bowl, or drizzle over the salad. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Substitute cooked shrimp, pork, or flavored tofu for the chicken. You can also replace the snow or snap peas with 2-1/2 cups shredded carrots, bean sprouts, or other sliced vegetables.

SERVES: 6

CREDITS: Simple Asian Meals