For the record, these recipes are a mixture of my own and recipes that I find. I do a lot of reading to begin with and cookbooks and magazines are my favorite. I'll even take a recipe, add and omit things and make it my own. That being said, I'm on an Asian kick and this one was absolutely wonderful. My kids and husband loved it and it's pretty easy to make. Add some organic vegetable rolls (in the frozen food isle) and you have a great meal.
2 1/2 tbs canola oil
2 small, boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 3/4 pd.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 medium shallots (about 4 oz), peeled and thinly sliced
2 stalks of lemongrass, trimmed, outer layer discarded, halved lengthwise, and smashed with the side of a chef's knife
1 tbs minced fresh ginger
2 tsp packed light brown sugar
51/2 cups of low sodium chicken broth
3 1/2 oz shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered (1 1/2 cups)
9 oz fresh udon noodles (found in specialty markets. Use fettucine if not available.)
2 jalopenos, seeded and thinly sliced
8 large fresh basil leaves, torn, plus more for garnish
1 medium lime, half juiced and half cut into wedges
1 tbs soy sauce; more to taste
2 medium scallions, trimmed and sloced for garnish (optional)
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks for garnish (optional)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
Heat 1 1/2 tbs of oil in a 5 to 6 quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Season the chicken with 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper and cook without disturbing until its browned and releases easily from the bottom of the pot, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until the second side is browned and almost firm to the touch, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool.
Prepare noodles and cook according to package instructions.
Add the remaining 1 tbs oil and the shallots to the pot. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until the shallots start to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the lemongrass, ginger, and brown sugar and cook, stirring, until the ginger and lemongrass sizzle and become fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, and raise the heat to medium high. Bring the broth to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Use your fingers or the tines of fork to shred the chicken. Add the chicken to the broth, cooking for about 2 minutes. Add the cooked noodles to the broth. Discard the lemongrass. Stir in the jalopenos, torn basil, lime juice, and soy sauce; season with more soy to taste. Divide noodles amoung four large bowls, ladling soup over and garnish with basil sprigs, scallions, carrots and cilantro, if using. Serve with the lime wedges for squeezing.