The week while I was home was a complete blitz. I was home for such a short period of time that my day was scheduled in thirty minute intervals to try to check off the list of things I needed to do and people I needed to see.

I had another list – dishes I wanted to cook while I was in the States and had access to certain ingredients. But day after day, things just kept coming up and I had to push back my cooking in favor of meeting up with people before I left again. Fortunately, my college roommate understands my food obsession, and so instead of meeting up for coffee, we met up for cooking.

She was craving something Asian, and it had been a while since I’d done anything like that, so we settled on some peanut sesame noodles. I have a soft spot for peanut sauce, and just thinking about this sauce has me craving it again – so it was the obvious choice for a big pan of stir fried noodles.

This dish was originally a vegetarian one, but the three of us eating it were wanting a little chicken in the dish so we added that too. It’s a very flexible dish. Add what you like, leave out what you don’t, and you’ll still love it.

Peanut Sesame Noodles
Adapted from Gourmet, June 2002

Servings: Makes 6 side-dish or 4 main-course servings.

Ingredients

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons Asian toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes or a splash of the hot sauce or chili paste of your choice
3/4 lb dried soba nooodles (dried linguine fini or spaghetti will work in a pinch)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips
1 carrot, julienned
Half a seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup firm or extra-firm tofu, dried and cubed
1 chicken breast, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Preparation

1. Puree dressing ingredients in a blender until smooth, about 2 minutes, and set aside.

2. Cook noodles in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until tender. Drain in a colander, then rinse well to keep the noodles from sticking together.

3. Sautee chicken until cooked through. Then add the carrot and bell pepper, and cook until just softened. Add the tofu to warm through, and then add in the cooked noodles and the dressing. Toss well.

4. Remove from heat and stir in the cucumber. Top with toasted sesame seeds and a sprinkling of scallions.

Critic’s Comments
Courtesy of Becca, my college roommate

“The noodles were very tasty. The sauce had a nice balance with a ginger punch. You could add just a little rice wine vinegar next time to give it even more of a punch. I like how there was a nice, steady heat throughout. Not too spicy, but just enough to excite the palate.”

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