It's the beginning of March, and it's still cold outside, but I was craving a favorite summertime meal - cold sesame peanut noodles. You'll see this in restaurants sometimes as Peanut Noodle Salad, or Cold Noodles with Peanut Sauce. I'm sure there are many different, and more complicated, variations of this dish, but mine is modified to be simple and inexpensive to make, perfect for my cheap, lazy self :-)
You'll need, well, noodles. If I have fresh egg noodles, I'll use that. I've also used rice noodles (the stuff in Pad Thai), or glass noodles (the stuff in Japchae). Today, I used cheapo plain spaghetti.
1/2 C peanut butter
1 1/2 Tbs soy sauce
4 Tbs sesame oil
1Tbs water or vegetable oil (optional)
cucumber, about a 4 inch hunk, julienned
2 medium carrots, julienned
3 cloves garlic, minced (or as much/little as you want)
2 scallions, sliced diagonally
1/2 C cilantro, chopped roughly
Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Once done, drain and cool under cold running water.
Add sauce ingredients into a bowl and mix well. I'm a little vague on the amount of peanut butter, but accuracy doesn't really matter. Here is a shot of 1 heaping spoonful of peanut butter. I used 3 of these heaping spoonfuls.
It'll look really weird, having peanut butter and soy sauce and sesame oil all in the same bowl, and it'll be all sorts of gooey and clumpy, but just keep stirring with a spoon, and eventually, the mixture will smooth out into a creamy consistency.
This sauce is extremely thick, so feel free to add some water or vegetable oil or more sesame oil to thin it out a bit. Make sure to stir any additional ingredients in to maintain the smooth creaminess. Set the sauce aside.
Chop all the topping ingredients and set aside in small individual bowls or on a plate.
Quick Tip: To easily julienne vegetables, cut into slices, but instead of stacking the slices and then cutting down (praying you don't slice off your fingernail, as I did once), spread the stack out a bit (like a deck of cards), and then cut into matchsticks.
Before serving, add a couple of spoonfuls of sauce to the noodles, and top with a little bit of cucumber, carrots, scallions, cilantro and minced garlic. Squeeze a bit of fresh lime juice on top. Serve cold.
This dish gets messy once you mix everything up, but it's worth it! Oh, and I like adding a wallop of Sriracha or other hot sauce on top for a bit of a zing!