Notes: The Asian ingredients are available in most supermarkets. If Asian salad mix is unavailable, use a combination of shredded iceberg lettuce, butter lettuce, cabbage, and carrots (2 quarts total), plus 1 cup canned chow mein noodles. A 2 1/2-pound cooked chicken yields about 4 cups shredded meat. Up to 1 day ahead, shred the chicken, make the dressing (chill both airtight), and fry the noodles (store airtight at room temperature).
Sunset JUNE 2001
1. In a small bowl, stir mustard and 1/4 cup water until smooth. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir in vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and Chinese five spice.
2. Pour 1 1/2 inches salad oil into a 12- to 14-inch wok or 5- to 6-quart pan over medium-high heat. When oil reaches 375° (a bean thread noodle dropped in expands at once), adjust heat to maintain temperature.
3. Meanwhile, inside a large paper bag, pull bean thread noodles apart. Drop a handful of noodles into hot oil; noodles should puff and expand immediately. With a wire strainer or slotted spoon, push noodles down into oil. When they stop crackling, in about 10 seconds, turn entire mass over and cook until crackling stops, a few seconds longer. Lift noodles out and drain on towels. Repeat to cook remaining noodles.
4. Line a wide, shallow bowl (at least 8 qt.) or dinner plates with noodles.
5. In a large bowl, gently mix chicken, salad mix with chow mein noodles (reserve dressing for other uses), cilantro, and almonds with mustard dressing. Spoon salad over bean thread noodles and serve immediately (noodles soften as they stand).
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