This dish is really very hearty. Chicken, noodles and vibrant pak choi in coconut broth leave you feeling very satisfied. Pak choi are the Russian Dolls of vegetables. I keep the small inner leaves whole then chop the stems of the large leaves keeping the green intact. This way the leaves and stem can cook at different rates so the leaves don’t disintegrate.
Broth is a friend if you’re managing mental health. The science is that consuming hot liquid releases endorphins which give us a sense of achievement, no small thing if you have depression. Chicken is a source of selenium which is a powerful antioxidant that also supports good mental health. I rarely use chicken breasts because they don’t have a lot of inherent flavour, but cooked with the 4/20 method (I’ll explain in the recipe) it’s a perfect protein to serve with egg or rice noodles swimming in a nourishing coconut broth.
Serves 2 Adults
2 chicken breasts
2 bulbs pak choi
400ml coconut milk
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 garlic cloves
1 chilli (optional)
150g rice noodles (gluten free ones) or 3 nests of egg noodles (not gluten free)
1 tbsp veg oil and 1 tbsp sesame oil
- *The 4/20 cooking method* Get a small frying pan that has a lid then add the vegetable oil and heat to a high heat (I use my max setting). Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt on both sides then once the pan is hot place the chicken in breast side down in the pan. Do not move the chicken for 4 minutes then turn the chicken breasts over, put the lid on and turn the heat way down to very low and set a timer for 20 minutes. You get beautiful pan juices that can be added to the broth later. This is the only way I cook whole chicken breasts because they come out flavourful and juicy every time.
- Chop the garlic and ginger until they form a rough paste. Put a large skillet or wok on a medium high heat and add the sesame oil (you can use regular oil, sesame just adds an extra depth). Fry the garlic and ginger for 30 seconds then add the tamarind, tomato puree, soy sauce and the juice of half the lime. Give it all a stir then add the coconut milk and reduce the heat to medium.
- Cut away the bottom of the pak choi so that the leaves all separate. Keep the smaller leaves in a pile to use whole in the broth. Take the larger leaves and chop the green part away into one pile then chop the stems into small semi-circles. Pop the stems into the broth with 5 minutes left on the chicken.
- Boil a kettle of water then place the noodles into a large bowl, sprinkle over 1/2 tsp of salt and pour over the boiling water then cover with a plate to tray the steam inside.
- If you’re using chilli (I don’t add it if I make this for the kids) chop it and add to the broth. Once the chicken is done add the pan juices to the broth then place the breasts on a chopping board to rest for a minute.
- Add the rest of the pak choi leaves to the pan and stir. Slice the chicken breasts into bite sized slices (about 10-12 slices).
- Drain the noodles and place in the bottom of two bowls. Ladle in the broth then top with the sliced chicken breasts and a quarter of lime.