Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Peanut Butter Noodles

When I was but a fledgling foodie, my mom used to make a dish she called Peanut Butter Noodles. As a college student, I think I may have tried to recreate it a few times (probably without consulting my mom, because that's what college kids do). I vividly remember one such experiment the very first time I ever visited Austin, back in 1992. My boyfriend at the time and I were staying in some co-op where we didn't know a soul, and we put the leftovers in a big tub in the fridge. We giggled the next day when we discovered that they had been devoured by somebody who likely had no clue whatsoever what they were eating. We later discovered how very un-strange that really was after moving in here.

For some reason, when I heard that the next Austin food bloggers' potluck was going to be a picnic, this long-lost dish popped into my head. I dug around a bit online and found this recipe, then consulted with my mom to get her take on it. Based on her recommendations, I modified it somewhat, so I'm posting my revised version here.

One particularly great thing about this dish is that it tastes good cold, so it's perfect for summer picnics, potlucks, or make-ahead dinners.


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Peanut Butter Noodles

Ingredients:
• 1 lb extra-thin dry spaghetti noodles
• 1 Tbsp sesame oil
• 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled & minced
• 1/2 Tbsp peeled, minced fresh ginger
• 1/2 c peanut butter (either smooth or crunchy works fine - if you use the crunchy, you might want to omit the peanuts)
• 1/4 c chopped dry-roasted peanuts (you may want to omit these if using crunchy peanut butter)
• 1 Tbsp soy sauce
• 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
• 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
• 1 tsp Chinese hot oil (with or without seeds, depending on your preference)
• 1/4 c hot water
• 1 cucumber, sliced
• 1 c shredded chicken (I was lazy and bought a pre-roasted whole one - which was nice because I had plenty left over for another meal.)
• 6 scallions (both white and green parts), sliced
• Salt (to taste)

Directions:
Cook the spaghetti until it is al dente, then toss it in the sesame oil. (Confession: I missed this step when I made this, so there was no sesame oil in mine. Honestly, I didn't think it too lacking, although it might add a nice dimension of flavor. However, I'm inclined to blend the oil in with the rest of the sauce rather than tossing it with the noodles separately).

While the spaghetti is cooking, you can make the sauce. Put the garlic, ginger, peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and chili oil in a blender and blend until it is smooth.

The original recipe then suggests that you pour in the water while the blender is still running. My blender blew a fuse partway through this process, so I ended up using a food processor to make the sauce, and I knew that was not going to fly (or, more accurately, that it was going to fly. Everywhere. So I poured the water in, then processed it, and it worked fine.

Toss the spaghetti in the peanut sauce, then toss in the chicken, cucumber, scallions and peanuts. Salt to taste.

Note that the sauce tastes pretty strong and a little harsh straight out of the blender, but it mellows significantly after being tossed with the pasta. If you're nervous, you can add the sauce bit by bit, tasting it as you go.

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14 comments:

  1. Sorry I had to miss the picnic potluck and this wonderful dish. Looks delicious. I plan to make it soon. Thanks to you and your momma for sharing. :)

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  2. oooh! looks scrumptious. i've bookmarked this to try for later.

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  3. I've made something similar but used roasted red peppers and cilantro too, minus the cucumber. I like it because it's so easy to make, and good hot or cold: the perfect dish!

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  4. Love this dish, I need to make it again!
    I made Tyler Florence's version once, but I used soba (or was it udon?) noodles instead of regular pasta. Also I probably used chipotle paste as the heat source. :)
    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/cold-sesame-noodles-recipe2/index.html

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  5. 1. Your Mom's PB Noodles rock
    2. You lived in a CLOTHING OPTIONAL co-op? How have we not talked about this??!

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  6. L. Shanna, we have not talked about that because I didn't KNOW that until I looked at that page for this post. I guess nobody ever decided to exercise that option.

    Thank goodness!

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  7. Mmm those noodles look delicious!! Now I'm wishing I'd attended

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  8. I must try this recipe! Thanks for posting :)

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  9. I missed your dish at the potluck- now I'm kicking myself! Guess I'll just have to give the recipe a try!

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  10. I make a similar dish and use green tea soba noodles for their pretty green color, and also an english cucumber.

    And what is *up* with the freakin' blenders? 84 settings, yet they never work - always jamming or burning out. I have heard that a good powerful (corded) immersion blender is the way to go.

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  11. i actually enjoy this meal very much! need to make it more often. great pics!

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  12. I just warm everything together in a saucepan on the stove on low. No blender problems or cleanup either.

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  13. Here is my take on tossing the noodles in oil separately: what this does, is coat the noodles with a layer of oil so the sauce stays on the surface and the noodles are slithery, which is what you want. If you add the sauce to unoiled noodles, it will soak in and it is hard to keep the noodles from turning into a sticky, starchy mass. So I advocate separate tossing before adding the sauce.

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  14. Anonymous, this is a great tip. Thank you for sharing it! I will definitely try this next time.

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