This article was originally featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on Thursday, June 29, 2006.

Small Bites

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

1 chicken breast (see note)
2 cups (480ml) chicken stock
2 cloves garlic
1-inch length fresh ginger
1 stalk fresh lemongrass
8 crisp, fresh romaine or iceberg lettuce leaves
1/2 of a thin English cucumber, skin on
1 scallion
Fresh cilantro

4 ounces Japanese udon or soba noodles
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
Vietnamese sriracha sauce or other hot sauce to taste
Chopped scallion for garnish


1. Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan large enough to hold the chicken breast, put in the peeled and smashed garlic and ginger and the lemongrass, and simmer very gently for 30 minutes or so until the chicken is cooked through and infused with the aromatics. (NOTE: You can use a boneless, skinless chicken breast to save time, but I like the flavor and texture contributions of bone and skin in a whole breast, and you'll save a little money that way.) Remove the chicken breast and remove and discard the skin and bones if necessary. Let the meat cool - I put the meat back in the broth and stuck it in the freezer for a half-hour or so to speed the process - while you work on the rest of the dish.

2. Trim the lettuce leaves to make four natural "cups" to hold the food. Cut the cucumber lengthwise into paper-thin strips with a little green skin along both edges. Mince the scallion and cilantro.

3. Boil the noodles per package directions until al dente, drain and cool briefly under running water to stop cooking. Put them in a small bowl with the peanut oil and sesame oil and stir well so all the noodles are coated, to avoid sticking together. Stir in the hoisin sauce and hot sauce to taste, and chill.

4. Curl a couple of cucumber strips into the bottom of each cup. Cut the chicken breast into eight pieces of equal size and put one piece atop the cucumbers. Garnish with the scallions and cilantro and serve, plated with a portion of sesame noodles.

WINE MATCH: Any crisp, dry white should be fine - it made an outstanding match with the recently featured Lucien Albrecht 2005 "Cuvée Romanus" Alsace Pinot Gris, with extra credit for the affinity of the wine's citric-lemon character with lemongrass and ginger; I'd expect an Austrian Grüner Veltliner to make an excellent pairing also.

Jennifer Joyce's "Small Bites" is available from in hardcover for $13, a 35 percent discount. Click
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