The recipes this week have made me pleased as punch. First, the soup that has made me look forward to the gloomy winter ahead, so delicious it is! Then, the chocolate muffin recipe I’ve been searching for my entire life. Ok, that was a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea. And now this!
Sesame peanut noodles. I’ve been scared of recipes like this. I don’t know…peanut butter in a savory noodle dish? Hm, the thought is a little hard for me to embrace. But then (then!) I had a similar type dish in a delightful local restaurant and decided my life would never be the same if I didn’t try to make it at home.
So I went to my most trusted source and made this version and it is absolutely, utterly fantastic. Although it isn’t an exact replica of my restaurant fare, slightly less creamy and saucy, it is undeniably the perfect blend of a slightly sweet, lightly spicy peanut sauce and a hint of sesame.
The pasta has a tendency to get a little dry upon standing but resumes perfection once a tablespoon of very hot water is stirred in. I think next time I might even double the sauce to give it a little more sauce-factor, but despite that, this meal has allowed sesame noodles to be part of my world forever.
And that is a wonderful thing.
Sesame Noodles with Peanut Sauce
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
- 2 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 5 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- Hot water
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 12 ounces dried spaghetti noodles
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 4 scallions (green onions), sliced thin on diagonal
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- Toast sesame seeds in medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1 tablespoon sesame seeds in small bowl. In blender or food processor, puree remaining 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, peanut butter, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, and sugar until smooth, about 30 seconds. With machine running, add hot water 1 tablespoon (for a total of about 5 tablespoons, give or take) at time until sauce has consistency of heavy cream, slightly thickened but purable. Set blender jar or workbowl aside.
- Bring 6 quarts water to boil in stockpot over high heat. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to 6 inches from broiler element; heat broiler. Spray broiler pan or rimmed baking sheet lined with foil with cooking spray; place chicken breasts on top and broil chicken until lightly browned, 4 to 8 minutes. Using tongs, flip chicken over and continue to broil until thickest part is no longer pink when cut into and registers about 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Using 2 forks, shred chicken into bite-size pieces and set aside. Add salt and noodles to boiling water; boil noodles until tender, about 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain then toss noodles with sesame oil until evenly coated. Add shredded chicken, scallions, carrot, and sauce; toss to combine. Divide among individual bowls, sprinkle each bowl with portion of reserved toasted sesame seeds, and serve immediately.
To be honest, I think the chicken is a bit of an afterthought in this recipe, and while good, this could easily be made vegetarian by leaving out the chicken. Alternately, the chicken could be grilled or cooked in any number of ways since the shredded chicken is simply added to the noodles (just make sure the chicken is well seasoned with salt and pepper before cooking for great flavor). Also, if you like noodle dishes a bit on the saucier side, consider doubling the sauce and adding it gradually to the noodles until reaching your desired consistency. Finally, the original recipe stated to serve the noodles cold but I didn’t – instead we ate these slightly warm, at room temperature even, and they were fantastic.
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Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Cook’s Illustrated