Sunday, April 10, 2011

Soy-Apricot Glazed Chicken and Sesame Noodles

This is one of the first recipes I ever "invented."  Invented really isn't the term for it, though.  See, it started with two different recipes - The Pioneer Woman's sesame noodles and a very, very basic glazed pork chop.  I'd made the sesame noodles as a side, and the pork chop was basically a pantry meal - a case of "So I've got pork chops, soy sauce, and half a jar of marmalade..."

Then, one day, it all became clear.  Why not made those same noodles and some tasty asian-glazed protein all at the same time.  I abandoned the pork in favor of chicken.  And, of course, I ought to add the secret weapon of Asian-flavored cooking: broccoli.

Seriously, I think any time I eat anything with a Chinese-style sauce and there's no broccoli, it's a huge missed opportunity.  Broccoli just loves to soak up sauces, and man is it good in anything starring soy.  I'd happily eat these noodles with just the sauce and broccoli.  Or just the broccoli in the sauce.  But the whole thing is pretty good together, too.

This is a recipe that changes a little every time I make it.  I used to make two different sauces: one for the noodles and one to glaze the chicken.  They shared 90% of their ingredients, though, so it's really more sensible just to use a little more to glaze the chicken and let that sauce the noodles, too.  Ratios are pretty flexible, as are different flavorings in the sauce.  Any citrus makes a tasty glaze, and you can easily add or subtract ginger, sesame, and hot sauce as desired for a different experience.

Here's what I made this time around, starting with the cast of characters:

The big three: Chicken, of course.  A pound or a pound and a half, boneless/skinless.  Broccoli, too.  Please use fresh!  And noodles - I usually use fettuccine.

Now for the glaze/sauce: Soy sauce (I prefer Tamari sauce, most of the time.  Less sodium and a bit more complex in flavor), minced garlic, sesame oil, rice vinegar, Sriracha hot sauce, and some fruit preserves.  I went for Apricot this time around, and it was quite nice.  Try to go for something made mostly of fruit - a lot of what's on the shelf is fruit-flavored corn syrup, and that's not so yummy.

Also, some green onions for garnish.

Let's make some noodles!

An optional first step: Marinade!  Trim your chicken and slice it into "medallions" about an inch thick.  Put together a simple marinade of 1/4 cup Tamari (soy) sauce, 1-2 tsp minced garlic, and 1/4 cup water.  Some orange juice in there can be good, too.  I like to get my chicken in the marinade the night before.  If you can only let it sit for an hour, though, that's fine too.  If you're really in a hurry, no problem - the glaze makes it plenty flavorful anyhow.

Whether you marinated or not, you'll need to steam some broccoli.  Nothing fancy, here, just chop it down into pretty little florettes and toss them in a nice big saucepan with just enough water to touch the bottom of the steamer.  Cover, put on the heat, and forget about it until the lid suddenly starts jumping from the steam and scares the heck out of you.

With the broccoli on to steam, get your noodles started, as well.  I may or may not have forgotten to take a picture of the noodling.  Thankfully, it's a straightforward process: noodles + boiling water + time = victory.

Time to get the chicken cooking.  If you marinated the chicken, you're all set - just get it in the pan over medium heat.  If you didn't marinade, cut it down first, then add it to the pan on medium.  Surface area is a very, very good thing in this recipe - the more glazed area, the better!

We'll basically replicate the marinade to cook the chicken in.  Add 1/4 cup Tamari and 1-2 tsp minced garlic to your pan.  We'll save the rest for a bit later - the fruit part of the glaze involves a lot of natural sugar, so letting it scorch would be a sad, sad thing.  Cook the chicken until you can't see any more pink on the outside.  We don't want the inside quite done, though.

Your broccoli is probably about done steaming by now.  Again, we don't want it quite as tender as you'd like to eat it.  Look for that particularly vibrant shade of broccoli-green.  Or just sample a piece - chef's privilege. If it's just a bit less tender than you want it on your plate - it's done (for now).

Pull your chicken out of the pan and chop it into nice, bite-sized pieces.  Tongs are a very good idea, here - you really don't want to get too handsy with the chicken itself.  Hot soy sauce hurts.  You'll probably notice the very center of the chicken is just a touch pink - perfect.  It will finish in the rest of the glaze-y goodness.

Return the chicken to the pan, and add the broccoli to that very same pan.  It's glazing time!  About 1/4 cup of preserves usually takes care of it on the fruit front.  Also add 1-2 tsp of sesame oil (more if you're a sesame fan, less if you just want a hint), a squirt of Sriracha for some heat, and about a tablespoon of the rice vinegar to balance things out.  Again, the ratios here are quite flexible, so adjust, add, or omit as your heart desires.

Resist the urge to just take a fork to the whole thing at this point.  Give it 3-5 minutes to simmer in the sauce.  This is a great time to fight the craving by getting your noodles into a nice, big serving bowl and chopping your green onions for garnish.

When you can't stand it any more, dump the whole pan into the serving bowl full of noodles mix well.

Take a moment to admire your handiwork.

Garnish with green onions, and serve immediately!

Recipe: Soy-Apricot Glazed Chicken and Sesame Noodles

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes   |   Cook Time: 20-30 minutes   |   Difficulty: Easy   |   Servings: 4-6.


  • 1-1.5 pounds Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
  • 12 oz Fettuccine noodles
  • 3-4 crowns Broccoli, cut into florettes
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Tamari (soy) Sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1-2 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 1/4 -1/3 cup Apricot Preserves
  • 1 tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • Sriracha hot sauce to taste

Optional: Marinate chicken in 1/4 c. Tamari sauce, 1-2 tsp minced garlic, and 1/2 c. water for at least one hour - preferably overnight.

Steam broccoli to just before tender.

Cook noodles according to box instructions.

Cut down chicken into roughly inch-thick "medallions."  In a large skillet over medium heat, cook chicken with 1/4 cup Tamari sauce and 1-2 tsp minced garlic.  Cook until no pink is visible.

When broccoli is finished steaming and no pink is visible on chicken, remove the chicken and chop down into bite-sized pieces.  Return chicken and broccoli both to the large skillet.

To the chicken and broccoli, add preserves, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and sriracha.  Simmer over medium-low heat 3-5 minutes.

In a large serving bowl, combine chicken, broccoli, noodles, and sauce.  Garnish with finely sliced green onions.  Serve immediately.

1 comment:

  1. I think we need to eat this, this week. It looks wonderful! I love apricot and soy. And I totally agree about broccoli being an essential. It was always the best part of Red Dragon's beef with broccoli - the broccoli with the delicious sauce!