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Using My Noodle July 30, 2009

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Food, random stuff.
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Do you ever start something, then get sidetracked, until you forget all about what it was you started, or even that you’ve started anything? Or does that only happen to me?

So anyway.  A couple of months ago, I came a cross a recipe (in Cook’s Illustrated) for cold sesame noodles.  With chicken, no less, making for an actual hearty meal.  Which I meant to tell you all about ages ago, but I, um, well, I forgot.

Let me take a second to talk about sesame noodles.  I’d actually never had them until a few years ago – most of my Asian food experience had been limited to buffets at various Chinese restaurants, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen sesame noodles on a buffet.  Or if I have, I passed them over in favor of the garlic eggplant or the General Tso’s chicken. So one time, a few years back, Peeps added an order of cold sesame noodles to our take out order so I could try them.  And I’ve never looked back.   I love them!  I don’t have them very often (actually, we don’t order Chinese very often) – I’m reasonably sure they’re not the healthiest choice on the menu, but they’re great for a once in a while treat – especially when it’s hot and muggy and threatening rain every time you look outside.

I think it’s time to consider making this again soon, don’t you?  And it’s not all that much work.    Not really, not if you get your mis en place, well, in place.

Before you do anything, if you want chicken in your noodles, be sure to have a couple of leftover grilled chicken breasts.  At least that’s what I did.  Shred (or cut) them into bite-sized pieces and set it aside.  If you don’t have leftover chicken, you can broil a couple of breasts.

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Now, we need 1/4 cup of sesame seeds.  (They ARE sesame noodles, after all, right?)  Toast the seeds in a skillet over medium heat – don’t burn them!  Stir frequently until they’re just starting to brown, about 10 minutes.  Pull out a Tablespoon for sprinkling at table.

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Once the seeds are toasted, I like to get the veggies cut.   You’re going to need 4 scallions, sliced thin on the bias, and a carrot, grated.

I usually use the white part of the scallions and about half of the green parts – I like a little color in my stuff.  That, and can you really have too much scallion?  No, I don’t think so either.

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And a shredded carrot.  Now you can certainly shred your carrot with a shredder, or even a food processor (you’re going to have to get it out anyway), but I like to use the V-slicer and julienne them.

I LOVE this slicer – I picked it up years ago for something like $25, and I’ll tell you, I would be lost without it.  Besides actually slicing, it juliennes and will even cut french fries.

Start with this:

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And before you know it, using proper safety precautions, of course, you’ve got this:

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How awesomely cool!

And just take your veggies and add them to the bowl with the chicken – it’s all going to get tossed into the noodles when everything’s put together.

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Speaking of noodles.  Just boil 3/4 of a pound of regular old spaghetti.

Yes, spaghetti.  After all, we all know that spaghetti was invented by the Chinese, right?

So cook the noodles for about 10 minutes in salted water – I’m sure you know the pasta-cooking drill, right?

When it’s done, rinse it thoroughly under cold water and let it drain. (Remember, COLD sesame noodles?)

OK, we’ve got our chicken, our veggies, our cold noodles and the sesame seeds.  Now we just need to tie it all together.

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Peanut butter.

I know, right?

But seriously.  And choosy moms do choose Jif.  It’s smoother and sweeter.  And it just tastes better than other, lesser brands.

Cook’s Illustrated prefers chunky peanut butter, and really, who am I to quibble?   I prefer it too.

But not just peanut butter.  Oh, no.

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In either the food processor (or blender) combine:

  • The rest of the toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh minced ginger
  • 5 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar

Whir it all together until it’s smooth, about 30 seconds.  Add a little hot water, a tablespoon at a time, until the sauce has the consistency of heavy cream, maybe 1/4 cup or so.

Now it’s time to put all the pieces together.

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Toss your drained, rinsed and cooled pasta with 2 Tablespoons of toasted sesame oil.

Remember, it’s “sesame noodles.”  Heh.

Be sure to use a big bowl, because the rest of the stuff gets added next:  the chicken, carrots, scallions, and the lovely, lovely peanut butter sauce.

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And it really is delightful.  I’m not sure why I don’t have a photo of the finished dish – I probably did, but it came out lousy, so I deleted it.

So anyway, toss all the parts together, and divide among servings bowls – it will make 4 to 6 servings, depending on how hungry you are and whether it’s lunch or dinner, I guess.

Sprinkle with the reserved toasted sesame seeds – remember those?  Yeah, I almost forgot them too.

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And the verdict?

Well, this was very, very good.  I thought the chicken was kind of overkill, though – next time I’ll make it as nature intended – cold sesame noodles without chicken.  Also, it was slightly better fresh made (more “cool” than “cold”) than it was after having been refrigerated – not enough to put me off the left over, refrigerated noodles, but enough to have a clear preference.

Basically, if you want something that you can throw together and enjoy in the hot weather, that kind of salad-like, but kind of more substantial than a typical salad, this is the thing.

And I’m going to make it again very soon.

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Comments

1. origamifreak - July 30, 2009

I like making this with shirataki noodles and shrimp (with julienned cucumbers and whatever oniony type things I have on hand – scapes, chives, or green onions). I usually just buy the bottled Thai peanut sauce at Weggies, though.

Toy Lady - July 30, 2009

That sounds good, too. Cucumbers would be a great addition!

I do try to avoid as much bottled stuff as I can – though sometimes it’s unavoidable, of course.


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