Smoky Grilled Chicken with Zucchini Ramen Noodles

Smoky Grilled Chicken with Zucchini Ramen Noodles

Smoky Grilled Chicken with Zucchini Ramen Noodles

I haven’t had ramen noodles in forever, but they are soooooo good in that salty, carby take-you-back-to-college way.  The inspiration for this recipe came from a friend who said she was craving ramen and was having trouble justifying the carb bomb.

In general, I think if you’re craving something really specific, it’s best to just eat a small portion and satisfy the craving. That said, there are definitely circumstances under which just giving in is a bad idea. A vegan doesn’t go eat double cheeseburger because she has a sudden flash of one she ate ten years ago at Five Guys, and someone who’s allergic to gluten can’t  just order a pizza.

The obstacles to making a healthier ramen are 1) replacing the fried noodles with something that would provide a satisfyingly slurpy experience and 2) replicating the intense flavor without using most of the salt in the Sea of Japan.  I knew I could make long thin noodles from zucchini with the angel hair attachment on my spiral slicer, so I really just just needed to nail the flavor.

Years ago a Korean friend introduced me to the wide variety of packaged ramen available at Asian markets – here were kimchi, seafood, barbecue flavors packaged in styrofoam bowls that made the plain chicken varieties seem so boring. Later when I moved to Seoul I had some unbelievable soups with noodles that were flavored with whatever the cook had on hand  – vegetables, fish, red pepper powder.

Tokyo ramen master Ivan Orkin opened his shop, Ivan Ramen, in New York in 2012 and now half of New York is devoted to slurping his gourmet take on Japanese noodles. His “Slurpshop” menu includes classic Japanese ramen dishes like Tokyo Shoyu Ramen with dashi, a kind of stock that is the basis for miso, and pork chashu, which is pork braised with sugar, sake and dark soy sauce . Again the sodium presented a problem for us – soy sauce is off the table  – but this got me thinking about flavoring ramen with a well-seasoned meat.

I decided to go with grilled chicken thighs covered with a smoky, harissa-inspired rub. Think a little bit of cayenne, smoked paprika, cumin, and chili powder.  The spices provide enough heat and smoky flavor to eliminate the need for excessive salt. Just for good measure, I decided to stir-fry some vegetables in the same seasonings. The vegetables add even more nutrition to a protein and complex-carbohydrate packed bowl of yum.

One additional notes on this recipe: I recommend using homemade chicken stock, as the flavor of the chicken stock really makes this dish.  I tend to save the bones and leftover chicken every time I make a whole chicken or pick up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. It’s a cinch to throw the leftovers, half an onion, a few carrots, a couple of celery stalks, any herbs you have on hand and water into a pot on Sunday mornings, and the flavor of the fresh stock will be far superior to anything you can buy at the grocery store.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Smoky Grilled Chicken with Zucchini Ramen Noodles
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Healthy Entrees
Cuisine: Paleo
Serves: 5
For the Grilled Chicken:
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs (5-6)
For the ramen:
  • 2 small zucchini, spiraled
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ½ cup sliced red sweet peppers
  • ½ cup sliced onions
  • 3 cups assorted raw vegetables
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  1. Place two small bowls side by side and place in each: ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon ground coriander, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt.
  2. Place the chicken in a glass bowl and mix in one of the bowls of spices, plus 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Allow the chicken to marinate for about an hour.
  3. Make long thing noodles from the zucchini using a spiralizer or a julienne peeler. Set aside.
  4. Preheat the grill to high. Place the chicken on the grill, discarding the marinade. Grill the chicken 5 minutes on one side and 4 minutes on the second side. Allow cooked chicken to sit for 5 minute and then cut slice piece lengthwise - in the opposite direction of the grill marks - into six or seven pieces. Set aside.
  5. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large pot.
  6. While the chicken stock is coming to a boil, heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a wok or a large skillet over high heat. Add the vegetables and the second bowl of spices and sauté for 2 minutes. Pour the vegetables on a plate to prevent further cooking and set aside.
  7. Add the zucchini "ramen" to the boiling chicken stock and turn off the heat.
  8. Ladle the simple soup mixture into 5 bowls and top with the seasoned vegetables and the grilled chicken.
  9. Garnish with cilantro, serve with sriracha and eat with chopsticks and a spoon.


    • says

      Stef – Thanks for the birthday wishes! I’ll definitely give roasted the bones a try. Anything for perfect soup! Also looking forward to checking out “Mennonite Girls Can Cook” Thanks for the nudge!


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