Vietnamese-Style Noodle Bowls with Chicken
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, or more to taste
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoons fish sauce
1 piece fresh ginger, cut into 2 thick slices
1 clove garlic, halved
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts
8 ounces rice vermicelli noodles
2 carrots, grated
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
1 jalapeno or other chili pepper, cored and thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 lime, quartered, for garnish
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, rice vinegar, fish sauce, ginger, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, just until bubbles appear at the edges and the sugar has dissolved.
Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. With a slotted spoon, remove and discard the ginger and garlic.
Taste the dressing for seasoning and add more sugar, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, if you like. The dressing should be a nice balance of vinegary and sweet.
This can be prepared several days in advance; keep refrigerated.
Warm the oven to 400F. In a bowl, combine the hoisin and oyster sauces with the canola oil. Add the chicken and turn well to coat all over. Arrange the chicken in an 8x8 baking dish in one layer. Cover with foil and cook for 35 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of the breasts registers 165F.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Remove from heat, add the noodles, and let stand for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the noodles are tender when you taste one. Drain into a colander, rinse with cold water, and shake the colander to remove excess water. (If the chicken isn't quite ready yet, cover the noodles with cool water to keep them from drying out. Drain before serving.
Heat a large nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange the cooked chicken breasts in one layer and cook 2 minutes. Turn and cook 2 minutes more. Watch carefully so they do not burn. Remove from the pan, and allow to cool briefly. Slice the chicken thinly, keeping the slices together if possible.
Divide the noodles among 4 large bowls. Top with sliced chicken, carrots, bean sprouts, jalapeno, and scallions. Sprinkle with a few spoonfuls of dressing, then garnish with cilantro, mint, and peanuts. Serve with lime and remaining dressing on the side.