Microwaved bean threads tie meal together quickly

FAST & FRESH

October 07, 1992|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Contributing Writer

When time is at a minimum, one of the most flavorful ways to prepare a well-rounded meal is Oriental style. One normally thinks of stir-frying for an entire meal in one pan, but this version is a contemporary feat in efficiency. It makes use of the microwave, combined with stovetop sauteing (or searing) for browning.

Bean threads, or cellophane noodles as they are often called, are a favorite pasta substitute in Oriental and Asian cuisines. The base of this noodle is the mung bean, rather than grain flour, and when plumped, they become translucent, with a very interesting texture. A more traditional thin pasta such as capellini or thin spaghetti can be substituted, but in that case, boil the pasta stovetop. Most recipes call for simply soaking the bean threads for a result that I find too rubbery, so give this new method a try.

This meal is nutritious, very low in fat and with the addition of sugar snap peas, you have lots of veggies for extra color. Snow peas can be exchanged if fresh or frozen sugar snaps aren't available. It is convenient that the frozen variety have the strings removed. These can also be cooked in the microwave. Peeled oranges make an extra special dessert when drizzled with Grand Marnier.

Items you should have in your pantry are: carrots, vegetable oil, sesame oil, lemons, chicken broth, garlic, soy sauce, honey, salt and Grand Marnier.

Your 10-item-or-less shopping list:

small head broccoli

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

fresh ginger root

12 ounces fresh or frozen sugar snap peas (or snow peas)

4 small oranges

Zesty lemon chicken with bean threads Serves four.

1 medium carrot, scrubbed and thinly sliced

1 medium stalk broccoli, florettes reserved, stem peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds

1 3 3/4 -ounce package bean threads, also called cellophane noodles

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flattened to 1/2 -in thick and salted

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon sesame oil

LEMON SAUCE

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup chicken broth, mixed with 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 cloves garlic, pressed

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced or 1 teaspoon dried

Place bean threads, carrots and broccoli in a 2-quart microwave bowl. Fill with very hot water just to cover and top with microwavable plastic wrap. Microwave six to eight minutes and then let sit, covered to continue steaming and keep warm.

Meanwhile heat both oils in a medium skillet until very hot. Add chicken breasts and sear three minutes per side. Remove and keep warm while quickly making lemon sauce. Lower heat to medium and add all sauce ingredients to skillet while stirring constantly as the sauce thickens. Lower heat to a simmer to keep warm.

Drain any liquid from bean threads while keeping them and the vegetables in bowl. Pour three-quarters of the lemon sauce over and toss. Place four equal portions on plates. Cut chicken into 1/2 -inch strips and sprinkle bean threads over each. Top each portion with a dollop of sauce.

MENU Zesty lemon chicken with bean threads (cellophane noodles) * Sugar snap peas * Fresh orange slices with Grand Marnier

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