Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Spicy Peanut-Sesame Noodles

Do you ever get a sudden craving for a food you haven't eaten in years? I did, not long ago, when the idea of udon noodles with spicy sesame sauce took up residence in the (large) area of my brain that occupies itself by thinking about food. So I picked up a packet of Eden Udon Noodles at the health food store, and rummaged about in the kitchen.

A browse through my cookbook shelf came up with a Sesame Sauce recipe on page 175 of Devra Gartenstein's "The Accidental Vegan" that looked like a good foundation for improvisation. I decided to use a combo of sesame paste and peanut butter, and nudged some of the other ingredient proportions up or down as my preferences guided. I also like spicy, so a good daub of something hot seemed in order, as well.

Here's what I put together, and oh my, is it good!

Peanut-Sesame Sauce

1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste: roasted, not raw)
1/4 cup + 2 TBSP peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
1/2 cup warm water
2 or more TBSP freshly grated ginger root (press through a sieve so you just get the juice without the stringy fibers)
2 TBSP reduced-sodium shoyu (soy sauce)
1 TBSP dry sherry
1 TBSP toasted sesame oil (regular or spicy)
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp or more Thai Kitchen brand Green Curry Paste
1-2 medium cloves garlic

Whiz it all up in the bowl of your food processor or in a blender. Makes about 12 oz. of not-very-thick sauce. If you like yours thicker, start with 1/4 cup of water, then add more if needed. This is slightly but not aggressively spicy with the smaller quantities of heat-producing stuff. If you want more fire, use the hot sesame oil and larger quantities of ginger, curry paste, and garlic.

This is an excellent dip for vegetables (make a guess what happened to the rest of the cucumber after I'd diced up the 1/4 cup for the noodle dish below).

It really shines with Udon noodles. I poured the sauce over a cooked (still hot) 8.8 oz. packet, and mixed in:

About 6 oz. shredded cooked chicken ('cause that's how much leftover chix I had to use up, nothing sacred about the quantity), and

About a cup of sugar snap peas, in 1" pieces ('cause I found them in the fridge while I was looking for cucumber); these I tossed into the pasta pot for the last 1 minute of cooking, so they were just barely done and already mixed in with the noodles.

Dished up the noodles/chicken into bowls, and topped with (total quantities here, not per serving):
1/4 cup diced tomato (seeded)
1/4 cup diced cucumber (peeled and seeded)
1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

This should serve four. Taraka and I both indulged in seconds (breaking my rule about never going back for more), and there's a good bit left over. If I have any self-control tomorrow, I will let Taraka finish it up.

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