By Sarah Lagrotteria
What should we have for dinner?
Again? We had those last week.
But I’ll make anything. Seriously, pick a cuisine and I’ll do it. I want to try something new.
But I’m a chef! I need to work on my craft. Challenge me! I’ll make you anything you choose
Whatever romantic explanation Angus may create for the benefit of friends and family, the truth is that he married me for my peanut noodles.
Luckily, I love them too. And they’re easy–a mix of pantry staples plus whatever veggies and herbs you have on hand. The base is a cool, slurpy, toothsome, peanut-buttery noodle and the best toppings are cold and crunchy. Perfect for this hot weather.
While you can play fast and loose with the veg and protein toppings, be sure to top it all off with chopped roasted peanuts and a spoonful of spicy chili paste or siracha. They take the dish to a whole other level.
1/4 cup roasted peanut oil
3 tablespoons rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 heaping tablespoons peanut butter.
12 ounces chow mein noodles
3 large carrots, julienned (cut into matchsticks)
2 small or 1 large cucumber, skin on and large seeds removed, julienned (cut into matchsticks)
Any other vegetable of choice, cut into matchsticks. In the image above I used beets, but sugar snap peas and radishes work beautifully too. It’s an anything-goes, clean-out-your-fridge kind of dish.
Already-cooked shredded chicken, sliced steak or raw cubed tofu as desired
Fresh mint, Thai basil, basil, cilantro or any combo of the four, roughly chopped
Roasted peanuts, chopped
Chili paste and sea salt, to taste.
If the day feels particularly sticky, I recommend crisping your cucumbers and carrots in an ice bath before adding them to the dish. Once you cut them into matchsticks submerge them both in a bowl of ice water in the fridge. Let sit while you prepare the sauce and noodles and then drain just before adding to the dish. Even a short soak in an icy water bath will give the vegetables more crunch.
Bring a large pot of water to boil over medium-high heat. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and rinse until cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together the peanut oil, vinegar, soy, garlic and jalapeno. Add the peanut butter and continue whisking until smooth. Add the cool noodles and gently toss until evenly coated.
To serve I like to to make a nest of noodles in each individual bowl and then add separate little haystacks of each vegetable and whatever protein I desire. I finish with a sprinkling of peanuts, fresh herbs, sea salt and a dollop of chili paste, offering more of all four final toppings at the table.