While traipsing around my neighbourhood (the suburb of Balmain in Sydney, to be precise), I noticed yet again the number of Asian restaurants along the main street. Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, mix of other south-east Asian - they are all well represented, along with a pub on every corner. I'd say that Balmain's heyday (trendiness-wise) was more than 10 years ago, and the suburb is waiting for a gourmet revival, like Surry Hills or Neutral Bay, so we are yet to encounter trendoid tapas, churrasco, whole lamb on a spit, and the like.
Then I got to thinking: what cuisines are popular in other countries, and does a country's proximity to a particular area (like south-east Asia) have a bearing on the restaurants that do well? Of course, serving good food is also a pre-requisite to doing well, something that our local restaurants have not heeded... If you live in the UK, or USA, or Germany, or Brazil or anywhere else, what food is most popular for takeaway/takeout? Please don't say fast food!
Which brings me to tonight's dinner - it's another Asian-inspired dish, sort of like pad thai. It's just something thrown together with random ingredients and a semblance of a recipe. Actually, there is no recipe as such, but I've written one out anyway.
Chicken with Rice Noodles
120g dried flat rice noodles
3 chicken thigh fillets
2 tblsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tblsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp soy sauce
50g cashews or peanuts, lightly crushed
2 spring onions, chopped
1. Marinate the chicken: Mix together the sweet chilli sauce, lemon juice and garlic, then place the chicken into the marinade and leave for 15 minutes.
2. Place the rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 5 minutes, or until the noodles have softened. Rinse with cold water, then drain well.
3. Heat the vegetable oil in a frypan over high heat and cook the chicken for about 5 minutes, until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan and slice into strips.
4. Reduce the heat and place the noodles in the frypan, mix in the soy sauce and quickly stirfry for 30 seconds.
5. To serve, place the rice noodles in a bowl, mix through the spring onions, top with the chicken and cashews.
Ingredients, including sweet chilli sauce, cashews, rice noodles and spring onions
There's a little bit of heat in the chicken from the sweet chilli sauce, but feel free to add more sauce before serving
The cashews add a crunchy finishing touch to this tasty dish.