Does your family prefer spaghetti noodles over all other kinds? I mean, there are so many cute and functional pasta shapes out there, but I find myself serving the same, plain and classic noodles the most.
My family doesn’t care about how well some noodles hold the sauce better or have a slipperier mouthfeel required for some sauces. And god forbid they certainly don’t care about the aesthetics of serving a certain dish with the “right” pasta because it’s prettier. They are hungry and just want to eat it and prefer thin, long strand noodles. For myself, I might have chosen soba noodles for this dish but, that’s just me being fancy.
For the record, this dish was fabulous with plain ole’ spaghetti…a family win.
Did I mention the chicken only needs to sit in the marinade for 30 minutes, making it a quick weeknight dinner.
I used chicken tenderloins for this meal and cut them into smaller, more bite-sized pieces. An easy way to cut up chicken tenderloin is with your kitchen scissors, so much easier than a knife.
There are some options when it comes to cooking the meat. Because I wanted a browned, caramelized look, I used my large stainless steel skillet to brown the chicken. This does lead to some extra clean up work as the bottom of the pan does get pretty sticky and thick. Other options might be to grill the chicken or make it in a nonstick skillet. With the nonstick option you will not get the pretty browning you see going on here..
Maybe I’m being dramatic about the cleanup, but for some people I know washing dishes can be a nightmare. Since I’m always doing dishes it really doesn’t bother me. When I have to clean up a sticky mess on the skillet, I leave the flame going once I’ve removed my meat and immediately add hot water to the pan (stand back). I let it boil while using a wooden spoon to scrape/remove most/part of the crud. I then let it soak with some dish soap and use an SOS pad to help me remove any residual burnt pieces.
My son loved this dish. It really is kid-friendly if your little ones have a taste for Asian flavors. Give it a try soon!
Sticky Asian Chicken Spaghetti
- 1 lb chicken tenderloins, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon vodka*
- 1 Tablespoon Mirin (Aji-Mirin, Sweet Cooking Rice Seasoning, available everywhere)
- 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger (not chopped)
- 1 clove garlic (not minced)
- 2 cups broccoli, blanched or steamed (small florets)
- 12 oz spaghetti (uncooked)
- green onion for garnish, sliced
- In a large bowl, combine chicken, hoisin, soy sauce, vodka, Mirin, toasted sesame oil, ginger and garlic. Let sit for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare broccoli (you don't want this mushy so be mindful not to overcook) and spaghetti. Keep warm.
- In a large skillet, over medium-low heat, add chicken to the pan using a slotted spoon. Allow the marinade to drip through the slotted spoon back into bowl, reserving it for later use. I cooked the chicken in two batches, carefully turning each piece and evenly spacing them out to get the desired brownness; about 3-4 minutes.
- While the last of the chicken is cooking pour the reserved marinade into a small saucepan (you will not have a lot, but it will be enough). Bring to a boil and simmer over heat for 5 minutes.
- Stir cooked, reserved marinade into spaghetti noodles and top each serving with chicken, broccoli and green onion.
- Serve immediately.
- *Why add vodka to a marinade (I almost always do)? Just like salt, alcohol brings out the flavor in food. Alcohol does this by evaporation and molecular bonding. Food is also the beneficiary of alcohol's ability to bond with both fat and water molecules. In this way, alcohol bridges the gap between our aroma receptors (which respond only to molecules that can be dissolved in fat) and food (which consists primarily of water). This is very important because most of the great "flavor" in food comes from aromas in the nose rather than tastes in the mouth. In terms of a marinade or a brine with both water and fat soluble ingredients, by taking the flavor compounds in certain aromatics such as garlic, herbs or other fat soluble ingredients, alcohol helps carry those compounds into the meat that's soaking in the marinade or brine. But alcohol also helps carry water soluble flavor compounds into the meat as well. Water soluble flavors would include sour, sweet, salty and bitterness. With alcohol's effort, the result is more flavor and aroma into the marinated food. Even one tablespoon of a neutral-tasting vodka considerably improves the flavor penetration of any given marinade. (Trust me on this one, it's my profession.)