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Noodles have always been a one of my go-to dishes, whether in the form of Italian pastas, soba, or even, in a brief obsession, shirataki noodles. Creamy, rich, and nutty, cold sesame noodles are a fantastic comfort food for cold, winter days or curing your Sunday-evening blues. It doesn't hurt that this dish also comes together in about 20 minutes and requires minimal shopping if you've already got the basic Asian condiments in your fridge.
You might think it odd to poach chicken in plain water. But it yields in tender, juicy breast meat and doubles as an impromptu, flavorful broth in which to cook your noodles. When it comes to shredding the chicken, though, don't follow my example! I seem to adopt a little kid complex—I know it's going to be hot when I go in there with my hands, but instead of letting it cool, I do it anyway, resulting in a series of "ouches," "ows," and reddened fingertips. So for this stage, I suggest either using a fork and knife or letting it actually cool—don't worry, you'll get to play with your food in a minute!
The trick to this recipe is that you need to immediately drain and rinse the noodles in cold water so that the starch doesn't make them stick together. Once you mix in the dressing, the sesame oil will help keep the noodles apart. Now it's time to get down and dirty and stick your hands in there. Have some fun as you pick up the stringy noodles, gently scooping them up, twisting and turning them over to envelope them in the creamy dressing—trust me, it's a blast and lets that little kid in you have a good time (without burning your fingers).
I like saving some shredded cabbage for a fresh, crunchy topping that contrasts well with the crushed peanuts and smooth, sesame-coated noodles. The final dish delivers just a hint of heat, making it impossible to put your chopsticks down as the messy pile beckons you from below. A quick, cozy meal in 20 minutes? Sounds great to me. And you want to keep it vegetarian, then you've got a filling meal in less than ten.
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