If you find yourself not knowing what to do with the dry and tasteless chicken breast at the bottom of your chicken soup, fear not and continue reading, please!
Ji si la pi and liang mian were two dishes my mom would often make with scraps of leftover rotisserie chicken, or the leftover chicken meat in soups (for some reason, we always drank a lot more soup than we ate the meat at the bottom). These are two of my favorite dishes from childhood- either because they involved noodles (<3 carbs), or because of the sesame paste+garlic+rice vinegar winning combination?* Whatever the case, they share a common thread; They are the best types of dishes to make when it is really hot outside, because they are in the liang ban 涼拌 (literally means cool mix) category, meaning that they are eaten at room temperature / cool, and have garlic and vinegar, two components of almost every liang ban dish (okay, no vinegar in liang ban dou fu..but still!) What makes ji si la pi special is the liang fen (mung bean sheets). Ever had ‘glass noodles’ or ‘mung bean vermicelli’? Or, even the noodle part of chap chae ? Think of the chewy, QQ texture of those noodles, but in sheet form, then slathered in seasoned sesame paste and mixed with a bunch of yummy stuff. Chewy noodles, crunchy cucumbers, firm pieces of chicken, nutty sesame paste, pungent garlic, and fiery mustardy taste (for the brave). Lots of win in one bite.
But first…where do I buy the noodles for the ‘pi’ part? I never knew what they were called, but I saw them at the grocery store, and they are called fen pi (粉皮）。Go to an Asian grocery store..most likely, only a store with more Chinese products will have this, as I don’t think Koreans/Vietnamese/Thai cook with this. But! You never know.
*Random aside: If you think about sesame paste, garlic, and vinegar, what famous dish from the Middle East uses a variation these?
Hummus! Only it’s chickpeas, tahini, garlic, and lemon juice (and oil). Amazing, how the culinary pioneers across the globe figured out winning combinations.*
For those who live in Philadelphia, I got these at 1st Oriental Market on Washington Ave in the dry noodles section. No dice at Hung Vuong. Sorry!
This is ji si la pi, almost exactly the way I remember it being made by my mom at our house, or by puopuo at her house. My grandma, at almost 80 years old, is still really innovative in the kitchen, and I think she and my mom would be happy for me using CSA crunchy kohlrabi in place of some of the cukes.
Ji Si La Pi
Shredded Chicken with Mung Bean Sheets
Serves 2-3 as a side dish
4-6 oz boneless chicken (white or dark meat; your choice)
1 entire mung bean sheet
2 Tbsp sesame paste thinned out with 3-5 Tbsp water
2 cups julienned cucumbers (English cucumbers are better)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp or more rice vinegar
Salt to taste
A few pinches of sugar (optional)
Sesame oil (optional)
Wasabi, or dry mustard powder mixed with some water
1) Break the mung bean sheet into a few pieces, so that they fit into a large bowl. Add enough water to cover all the pieces completely.
2) Poach the chicken: Bring water and chicken to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Start checking the inside of the chicken (160-165F) after 8-10 minutes. When the chicken is done, take it out of the water. Let it cool enough to touch, then shred the chicken.
3) Dilute your sesame paste- add less water to begin, then add a little more water as the water gets incorporated. Just like in the liang mian recipe, you want something close to runny ice cream; not too dilute, not too thick. It must be pourable.
4) Bring the poaching-chicken liquid (or just water) to a boil, then add the mung bean sheets and lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook until the pieces are transparent, then taste a piece every so often until it’s to your liking of chewiness. Strain the cooked mung bean sheets out from the water, then roughly chop it into more manageable pieces.
5) Add shredded chicken, vegetables, garlic and mung bean sheets to a pie-pan-ish plate.
6) Pour all the sesame paste on top.
7) Add vinegar at suggested amount. Taste for seasoning, then add more vinegar if needed, salt to taste, and if desired, one or two pinches of sugar (depends on how sweet your rice vinegar is) and maybe a splash of sesame oil for a different sesamey layer. I like the la pi to taste nutty first (sesame paste), then salty, then some tartness and barely sweet from the rice vinegar+sugar. Then, if you wish, mix prepared wasabi (the same kind that you eat with sashimi!) into everything. Or, mix up a little bit of wasabi powder in water, then mix thoroughly.
-Hey, why are some of your cucumbers purple/white? Those are (purple-skinned) kohlrabi. Feel free to use a combination of crisp cucumber and a heartier rooty vegetable, like carrot or kohlrabi. Those are probably the only two I’d consider using in conjunction with cucumber.
-Like in the liang mian recipe , feel free to use leftover rotisserie chicken, or bits of chicken from your chicken soup or chicken stock. Don’t worry about the blandless in flavor; the sesame paste will fix that right up! I like white meat chicken for this. Even if you mistakenly overcook the white meat…it still tastes really good because of the sesame paste. Really.
-Shredding the chicken with your (clean) hands is:
2) a great task for your eager-kitchen kids to help with (I speak from experience, as I was once that kid)
3) the only way to do this dish justice 😀
-Just like natural peanut butter, sesame paste will separate, so make sure to stir well before sampling. Otherwise, prepare to end up with a lump of hard ground sesame when you get to the bottom of the jar (not that that’s ever happened to anyone before! 😉 )
-No pictures of the final product, because I am just not skilled enough to make it look appetizing after it’s been mixed 😉
-I think my mom almost always bought Marukan seasoned rice vinegar, which is sweeter than the un-seasoned rice vinegar. Whether or not you add sugar is all up to you and the rice vinegar you buy.