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Quick and easy Vietnamese chicken vermicelli recipe

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Vietnamese food officially became mainstream this year, with high-profile restaurants opening across the nation and Vietnamese dishes finding their way onto menus in restaurants of other genres. While the Vietnamese food scene is not necessarily new to Sonoma County, cooking it at home might be.

This simple chicken vermicelli dish takes little time to make and is packed with veggies and protein, which make it fresh and healthy, too.

It can be difficult to find all the ingredients for this recipe. If your grocery store doesn’t carry them, you may have to visit a specialty market or local Asian markets such as Mekong Market in Santa Rosa or Asiana Market in Cotati.

Food prep for this dish — marinating the chicken and chopping vegetables — takes longer than the actual cooking, but it tastes great left over. Just toss the ingredients together in a bowl.\

Chicken also can be replaced with beef, pork or tofu, or you can skip the protein and just enjoy the dish with noodles and veggies.

Chicken Vermicelli Dish
Serves 4, cooking time 40 minutes

Chicken and marinade:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 chicken breasts)
1⁄ 4 cup soy sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil (or sesame oil, if preferred)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
2 garlic gloves, crushed
— Salt and pepper to taste

Noodles & Toppings:
1 (16 ounce) package vermicelli rice noodles
2 cups chopped lettuce
2 cups bean sprouts
½ cup finely chopped carrots
½ cup chopped cucumber slivers
½ cup chopped green onions
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons chopped Thai basil

Sauce:
½ cup fish sauce
¼ cup lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon chili paste
1 glove garlic, crushed

Marinate the chicken in soy sauce, 3 tablespoons olive oil (or sesame oil, if preferred) and rice vinegar. Add ginger and garlic cloves, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and let marinate for 25 minutes. (Or marinate ahead of time, if possible.)

Make the sauce by stirring the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, chili paste and garlic into a small bowl. If you prefer your sauce to be spicier or saltier, add more chili paste or fish sauce accordingly. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken breasts. Flip every three or four minutes until completely cooked through.

Transfer to a cutting board and slice chicken into thin slices. Set aside. (Tip: To cook faster, cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise.)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add vermicelli noodles and cook until softened, about 6 minutes.

Drain noodles and rinse with cold water, while also stirring to separate the noodles. (Note: Vermicelli noodles take less time to cook then regular pasta noodles.)

Add the noodles to a bowl, filling up the bowl halfway. Then, top the bowl off with lettuce, bean sprouts, carrots, cucumber slivers, green onions, cilantr

Pour the sauce on top and toss to coat all the ingredients before eating.

Jessie Fetterling is a Santa Rosa-based food and travel writer.

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