Serves 4 generously, 6 moderately
Peanut dressing Ingredients:
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
7 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 one-and-a-half inch chunk ginger, peeled and sliced
6 tablespoons natural unsalted peanut butter
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1-2 garlic cloves
1-2 tsp honey or more to taste if sauce is too acidic
Pinch of cayenne or sriracha
Chicken and Noodle Salad Ingredients:
1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 6)
8 ounces dried rice vermicelli (I like to use Vietnamese brown rice noodles)
2 small cucumbers, cut in 1/4-inch half moons
2 medium carrots, cut in thin julienne
½ red bell pepper thinly sliced
½ yellow or orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
Additional vegetables, as suggested above
Small handful basil, mint, and cilantro sprigs, roughly chopped
4 or more green onions, chopped
1 sliced avocado
1/4 cup crushed or chopped roasted peanuts
Lime wedges (to serve)
Make the peanut dressing: In a blender or small food processor, puree all ingredients to a smooth sauce, about the thickness of heavy cream. Pour into a serving bowl.
Marinate the chicken: Stir together 1/3 the peanut dressing with the chicken in the bottom of a low-sided bowl or dish. Add the chicken to the mixture and toss to coat. Let marinate at least 15 minutes.
Cook the noodles: Bring a large pot of water to the boil, then turn off the heat. Add the rice vermicelli and soak for 7 to 8 minutes. (Package directions may vary; check for doneness by tasting.) Drain when noodles are al dente, and cool under running water. Fluff and leave in strainer to drain well. Toss with a tablespoon of sesame oil.
Cook the chicken: Grill the chicken on an outdoor grill, a stove-top grill pan, or run under the broiler until nicely browned, about 3 to 4 minutes a side. Let cool slightly, then chop roughly into 3/4-inch pieces.
To serve: At this point, you can place everything on a large serving platter. I like to line a platter with lettuce. In a separate bowl, toss noodles with peanut dressing and vegetables and chicken and place on top of lettuce.
Garnish with green onions, chopped peanuts, avocado slices and lime wedges.