Rainbow Rice Noodle Salad with Chicken
For the Chicken:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon red chili puree with garlic or hot sauce to taste
1/4 teaspoon honey
1 garlic clove, minced with 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oil, for cooking
For the Rice Noodle Salad:
8 ounce rice vermicelli
2 teaspoons neutral oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, rice wine vinegar, or a mixture of the two
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
salt to taste
2 carrots, julienned
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1/3 cup fresh cilantro or basil leaves, torn (optional)
1/3 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 yellow pepper, julienned
toasted black or white sesame seeds or chopped peanuts for garnish
Pound the chicken by placing it in a sealed plastic bag and applying pressure with a meat pounder, a rock, or whatever else you can find, until the chicken is an even 1/2″ thick. Add the remaining ingredients to the baggie with the chicken. Marinate for 15-30 minutes (you can marinate for up to a few hours, just do it in the fridge).
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and brush it lightly with oil. When hot, add the chicken in one layer and let cook for 1-2 minutes, so it gets nice and brown and ceases to be translucent. Flip the chicken and cook on the second side until cooked through, another 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool slightly before cutting. Slice into thin pieces and set aside.
Cook the vermicelli by bringing a large pot of salted water to the boil. Turn it off, add the vermicelli and give them a stir, then cover and let sit for 4 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Drain again. Place in a large bowl and toss with the oil.
Make the dressing by whisking together the lime juice or vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, 1/4 cup water, and a pinch of salt. Taste and adjust the balance of flavors to your liking.
Scatter the vegetables and herbs on the noodles and toss slightly. Pour the dressing evenly around. Arrange the chicken across the top, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve.