2-1/2 Tbs. canola oil
2 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 3/4 lb.), butterflied (cut horizontally almost all the way through and then opened like a book)
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
3 medium shallots (about 4 oz.), peeled and thinly sliced into rings
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, outer layers discarded, halved lengthwise, and smashed with the side of a chef’s knife
1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
2 tsp. packed light brown sugar
5-1/2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
3-1/2 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered (1-1/2 cups)
9 oz. fresh udon noodles
1 Thai bird chile (or 1 small serrano pepper), sliced into thin rings
8 large fresh torn basil leaves; plus sprigs for garnish
1 medium lime, half juiced and half cut into wedges
1 Tbs. soy sauce; more to taste
2 medium scallions, trimmed and sliced, for garnish (optional)
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks, for garnish (optional)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
1. Heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the 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 it’s 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 (just short of cooked through), 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool.
2. 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 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, 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook the noodles, stirring, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a colander and run under cold water to cool slightly. Drain well.
4. Use your fingers or the tines of a fork to shred the chicken. Add the chicken and noodles to the broth and cook until the noodles are completely tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Discard the lemongrass. Stir in chiles, torn basil, lime juice and soy sauce; season with more soy to taste. Divide the noodles among 4 large, deep bowls. Ladle the soup over the noodles, and garnish with the basil sprigs and scallions, carrot, and cilantro, if using. Serve with the lime wedges for squeezing.
*I used a serrano pepper (I find the Thai bird chile too hot for my taste).
*Fresh udon noodles can be found in Asian markets, but they should be easily available at your regular grocery store too… wherever the wonton wrappers are found (refrigerated section).
*I used all of the optional garnishes, and I recommend that you do that too.
*Only very skilled chopsticks users will be able to eat this with chopsticks. The chopsticks shown in the picture above were for aesthetic, photographic value, and then I dragged out my fork to eat the rest. Yes… a fork. This “soup” is more like a noodle dish than a soup. You can sip the broth after you eat up all of the good stuff. Or use a spoon, cutting up the noodles as you eat.
Serving size: 1/4 of the soup
Calories per serving: 500
Saturated Fat per serving: 2g
Sugar per serving: 4.9g
Sodium per serving: ,span class=”sodium”>930g
Fiber per serving: 5g
Protein per serving: 35g
Cholesterol per serving: 45mg
Carbohydrates per serving: 59g