Apparently, the weather in Boston has been much more agreeable of late than the weather in Los Angeles. As I sat in the mist and rain at the Dodgers game this past weekend, Amanda and her boyfriend packed up a picnic and headed Boston’s northern suburbs for a day of frolicking in the sun. Among the goodies in their picnic basket? These sesame noodles, which have become one of Amanda’s signature dishes. Reminding me that I gave her the cookbook from whence these noodles came (America’s Test Kitchen’s The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition with 1,000 Recipes), dragging all 1027 pages on a cross-country flight, as if there were no bookstores to be found on the east coast, Amanda sent me a lovely photo of her noodles and suggested that I might like to post them.
Indeed, I am happy to add them to my blog, as they are not only delicious, but remind me of the wonderful weekly Wednesday night dinners that we’d have over at Amanda’s before I moved out to California. And because poor Dylan has that most tragic of food allergies, a peanut aversion, I know the chances of making them myself are now quite slim (unless I want to taunt him the way I occasionally do when I bring Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups into the house). But that doesn’t mean the rest of the peanut-friendly world shouldn’t know about these scrumptious noodles. On this particular occasion, Amanda didn’t add the chicken (works equally well as a veggie dish!), but put in some cucumber for an added crunch. She is partial to using Nasoya-brand noodles (generally found near the tofu section of supermarkets) in either Japanese- or Chinese-style, but any fresh Asian noodles should do the trick. Great for picnics, lunches, and leftovers, these noodles are a quick and easy dish that work equally well as a main dish or a side.
Sesame noodles with shredded chicken (serves 4-6 as a main course)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
5 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
2 tbsp lightly packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 lb fresh Chinese egg noodles or 12 oz. dried spaghetti
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed of excess fat (optional)
4 scallions, sliced thin on the diagonal
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
1. Toast the sesame seeds in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently until golden and fragrant, 7-10 minutes. Reserve 1 tbsp of seeds in small bowl, puree the remaining 3 tbsp in a blender or food processor, along with peanut butter, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, hot pepper sauce, and brown sugar for 30 seconds, or until smooth. With food processor running, add hot water 1 tbsp at a time until the sauce has the consistency of heavy cream (about 5 tbsp) and set mixture aside.
2. Boil 6 quarts of water in a stock pot. Add noodles and salt to boiling water and cook until tender, about 4 minutes for fresh noodles, 10 for dried. Drain, then rinse under cold water until cool to the touch. Drain again. In a large bowl, toss the noodles with the sesame oil until evenly coated and set aside.
3. If you want to add chicken to your noodles, adjust an oven rack to 6 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler. Spray boiler pan top with cooking spray and place the chicken breasts on top and broil until lightly browned, 4-8 minutes. Using tongs, flip the chicken over and continue to broil until thickest part is no longer pink when cut into and registers 160 degrees on an instant thermometer (about 6-8 minutes). Transfer to cutting board and let cool 5 minutes. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken into bite sized pieces and add the chicken, carrots, scallions, and sauce to the prepared noodles and toss to combine. Divide among bowls, garnish with remaining toasted sesame seeds and serve.