Vermicelli Noodles and Chinese Five Spice Chicken | You know I am a big fan of quick easy dishes that impress and satisfy and this dish is all of those things. What I love about this dish is the contrast of temperatures and the complexity of flavors. The noodles are dressed in a light fresh dressing and served chilled with warm five spice chicken.
The noodle salad is tossed in a bright dressing made of lime juice, honey, and fish sauce. Yes, fish sauce. It’s what gives the dressing it’s salty umami flavor. Fish sauce is an amber-colored liquid extracted from fish or krill that has been salted and fermented for up to two years.
Fish sauce can be found in the Asian food aisle of your supermarket. I will tell you upfront if you take a whiff straight from the bottle it may knock you out….it stinks, but don’t be put off by the smell. It adds a wonderful umami complexity, and it’s a must-have in this dressing.
Now let’s talk about the noodles
What are Vermicelli Noodles?
It all depends on where you’re ordering noodles. Vermicelli noodles are long thin tubular noodles. In the US vermicelli noodles are thinner than spaghetti and are less than 1.5 mm in diameter. However, in Italy vermicelli, which translates to “little worms”, is thicker than spaghetti and is between 2.08 and 2.30 mm. In Italy, capellini or angel hair pasta is closer in diameter to US vermicelli.
But wait, there is more. In East Asian, the term vermicelli noodle is in reference to thin rice noodles, and are white when cooked. These noodles are commonly used in Vietnamese cooking. But vermicelli may also be used when referencing long thin noodles made of mung bean that are translucent when cooked. Mung bean vermicelli is commonly used in Chinese cuisine. For this recipe, I will be using rice vermicelli noodles. In the US the noodles can be labeled either rice vermicelli or thin rice noodles. Rice vermicelli can also be called rice stick noodles and can be found in the Asian food aisle of your local supermarket.
What can I substitute for vermicelli noodles?
When a recipe calls for vermicelli the main concern is the thickness of the noodle. Capellini and angel hair pasta are good substitutions for vermicelli. If the recipe calls for rice vermicelli you will have to choose on whether you want to prioritize flavor or texture. Capellini and angel hair pasta are made wheat flour and have a different flavor than rice vermicelli and texture. If you want to keep the flavor and texture of rice vermicelli it’s ok to use a broader rice noodle that resembles a linguine noodle.
How to make vermicelli noodle salad
- Prepare noodles: Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice, set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove the pot from heat and add the noodles. Let the noodles stand for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the noodles to be soft but firm. Drain noodles and transfer to the ice bath. Set aside.
- Prepare fixins and garnish: Peel and cut cucumber and carrots and slice green onions at a bias. Pick and tear cilantro leaves and Thai basil and roughly chop peanuts.
- Make dressing: In a small ball combine dressing ingredients and whisk until well combined.
- Assemble salad: Drain noodles and shake out excess water. Toss noodles with the dressing, vegetables, herbs, and chopped nuts.
- Optional extra touch: If you want to bring out the peanut flavor toast the peanuts in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned.
Vermicelli Noodle Salad and Five Spice Chicken Ingredients
- fish sauce
- vegetable oil
- green onion
- red peppers
- 7 oz package rice vermicelli noodles
- green onion
- Thai basil
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Chinese five-spice
- chopped peanuts
Of course, you can enjoy the vermicelli noodles alone but, to make a full meal I decided to serve the noodles with five spice chicken. Toss chicken in Chinese five-spice, grill, drizzle with honey, squeeze a little lime juice and serve with tossed noodle salad. It’s so easy and tasty you will probably add it to your regular weeknight dinner rotation.
I absolutely love Chinese five spice! The combination is an interesting combination of complex flavors creating that hard to describe umami flavor. Obviously, I love to use it as a meat rub, but I have also used it in baked goods. It’s a perfect addition to Fall flavor baked goods like pumpkin bread. I love versatile ingredients!
What is five spice?
Chinese five spice is a blend of five spices made of fennel seeds, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and Sichuan peppercorns. Some recipes may contain ginger root, nutmeg, anise seed, or orange peel. It is a spice blend that is used throughout Chinese cuisine as a rub for proteins. I have also found it also works well in baked goods like spiced bread and muffins.
What can be used instead of five spice?
Because five spice is made up of commonly used spices it’s easy to make at home. Combine the ingredients below and store in an airtight container. The recipe below makes just over 1/3 cup of Chinese five spice.
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoon ground star anise or crushed anise seed
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seed or 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
- 1/2 teaspoon Szechuan pepper or ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Although I like to serve the chicken warm over the noodles. It’s also a great make-ahead meal. The chicken and noodles can be prepared ahead and refrigerated separately. Toss the noodles with the dressing and set store the vegetables and herbs in a separate container to keep them from getting soggy. When you are ready to eat toss the noodles with vegetable and herbs and serve with chicken. You can either reheat the chicken or serve it cold.
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- 1 package boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 2 lbs
- 2 tablespoons Chinese five-spice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon chopped peanuts
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- juice of 1 small lime
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, melted
- white of 1 green onion, sliced
- 2 dry red peppers, minced
- 7 oz package vermicelli noodles, prepared according to package directions
- 1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and sliced
- 2 medium carrots, julienne
- 1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
- green onion, garnish
- cilantro, garnish
- Thai basil, garnish
- Heat a grill skillet or heavy bottom skillet over medium-high heat. Brush with vegetable oil.
- Toss chicken thighs with Chinese five-spice and salt. Place on the hot grill pan, turning after 3 or 4 minutes, until nicely charred and cooked through. Be careful not to crowd the pan. If pan is too small you may need to cook in batches. Drizzle the honey over the chicken, squeeze over the juice of 1 lime. Cook another 1 - 2 minutes to allow honey to melt and lime to reduce. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts, set aside.
- Combine all dressing ingredients and whisk until well combined. Combine all salad ingredients and toss with dressing. Garnish with green onion, cilantro and/or Thai basil. Slice chicken and serve with noodle salad.
Make-Ahead: The chicken and noodles can be prepared ahead and refrigerated separately. Toss the noodles with the dressing and set store the vegetables and herbs in a separate container to keep them from getting soggy. When you are ready to eat toss the noodles with vegetable and herbs and serve with chicken. You can either reheat the chicken or serve it cold.
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The Spice Way Chinese Five Spice Seasoning - Traditional Powder Blend 2 oz
Premium Mixing Bowls with Lids - by Simply Gourmet. Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl Set
OXO SteeL 9-Inch Better Wire Whisk
Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet - 12 Inch Ergonomic Frying Pan
Lodge Pro-Grid Cast Iron Grill and Griddle
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 697 Total Fat: 28g Saturated Fat: 7g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 20g Cholesterol: 277mg Sodium: 2624mg Carbohydrates: 56g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 6g Sugar: 29g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 63g