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Posts tagged ‘peanut sauce’

Peanut Noodles (and Kimchi)

This is a quick dish if you have a decently stocked pantry and some fresh veggies on hand. And leftover peanut sauce is always good to have around.

This dish is much more photogenic before you mix in the peanut sauce so I’m sparing you the image of the homely but very tasty results. I have taught this dish (or variations of it) many times and figured it was time to post it after a 7-year-old neighbor/friend requested it for dinner the other night. I love it when children want bold flavors and I happily obliged. I accidentally made it a bit spicier than I intended but said 7-year-old ate a big serving and only at the end, quietly admitted to her mom that it was a bit too spicy!

I like this substantial, room temperature dish especially when it gets cooler out. It’s hearty and warming because of the zippy peanut sauce but it’s also crisp and fresh from the lime juice and the raw veggies. If you have leftover chicken floating around or some shrimp in the freezer it would be even heartier but it’s pretty substantial as is.

My first batch of Kimchi.

There is a thriving “pickle scene” in Portland evidenced by the number of vendors of all things pickled and fermented at our many farmers’ markets, the pickle plates on restaurant menus, and at not-to-be-missed annual Portland Fermentation Festival that alas I have always missed!

Fermented foods were once a more substantial part of many culture’s cuisines and still are in some places, especially in Southeast Asia.  In addition to being a good way to preserve the harvest, add flavor and punch to any meal, they are very good for us. So with all this in mind and some beautiful Napa cabbage in the fridge I jumped into the fermentation fray guided by this witty and experienced fermenter and made Kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables) for the first time. It was straightforward and fun and now I have lots of lovely jars of it to enjoy and give away. If you’ve made it before or just love it, I’m eager to hear how you make it and eat it. So far I’ve mostly been eating as a side/garnish with other things but look forward to branching out.

And finally, I have spots available in my Beans and Grains in Hearty Winter Salads class. We’ll be using all kinds of beans, quinoa, and farro and mixing them with arugula, kale, broccoli, beets and winter squash (not all together!) for the most satisfying dishes.

Peanut Noodles

–adapted from Skillet Chronicles

Serves 4 as main or 6-8 as side

Quick, easy (if you have everything on hand), and a crowd pleaser. Feel free to add other veggies like thinly sliced cucumber, steamed broccoli or cauliflower, etc. This is one of the few dishes in which I prefer whole wheat spaghetti. Barilla is my favorite brand for this.

For the sauce:

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon grated ginger

4 garlic cloves, minced to a paste

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 Serrano chile with seeds and membrane, minced or 1 teaspoon chili flakes (or to taste)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar

2-3 tablespoon hot water

For the salad:

2/3 pound whole wheat or white spaghetti

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 carrots, grated

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

¼ cup mint or basil or cilantro leaves, roughly chopped (or a combination)

Blend all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth and set aside.

Mix grated carrots with 2 tablespoons rice vinegar and let sit while you cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente.  Drain pasta in a colander, reserving half a cup of the cooking liquid, and rinse with cold water until cooled.  Toss with sesame oil and place in a large serving bowl.

Add carrots, pepper, scallion and herbs to the noodles and toss.  Pour about half of the sauce over the noodles and toss with a couple of spoons or a pair of tongs, adding more sauce as needed to coat the noodles.  If the sauce is too thick to blend smoothly with the noodles and vegetables, add a tablespoon or two of the reserved cooking water while tossing. Serve at room temperature.

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Peanut Sauce

Rice with leftover peanut sauce and lots of cilantro.

I have at least five different blog posts started in my head. These last few spring-like days  here in Portland have been so energizing and glorious maybe that’s translated into increased brain activity. So I’d love to muse about all the birds I hear singing all of sudden every morning or the green garlic stalks that seem to have sped up their growth a bit or the late afternoon light or that wonderful springy, damp earth sort of smell. I’d also like to write about the talk I’m putting together to give at Slow Food Portland’s Annual Potluck this Sunday (there are still seats available and it is likely the best potluck in Portland and some of the most relevant content) I’d also like to write about several totally last-minute cook-with-what-you-have meals I’ve tossed together lately. So I think I’ll do the latter and focus on just one.

The other day I was in need of a quick hearty meal for our family. I had leftover black bean soup in the fridge so I cooked a pot of white rice (I was in a hurry and I love white rice but tend to cook brown rice more frequently these days) to make the soup stretch. As I was heating up the soup I realized that this was going to be just one-too-many bean meals in a row for my husband. I’ve been doing a lot of recipe testing with beans lately and as much as my dear husband likes most of them I know he doesn’t love them quite as a much as I do.

I rummaged through the fridge in search of some other quick inspiration for him and there was a little dish of leftover peanut sauce I had forgotten about. Then I remembered a blog post I had recently read by one of my favorite bloggers (David Lebovitz). Although primarily a baker he sometimes writes about savory foods and had posted a recipe for peanut sauce (that I have not tried) and talked about how he used to just dollop it on white rice for a quick meal on the go when he was still working in restaurants. So there it was: I had my hot rice, my little dish of peanut sauce and plenty of cilantro. So that’s what Brian got for lunch and he was very happy. I ate the bean soup AND a bowl of rice like his and had to agree that the latter was more fun! The hot rice loosened up the peanut sauce and brought out the flavors of lime and chili and the cilantro was cooling and lively. It hit the spot.

So, if you make the below recipe for peanut sauce you should plan to use three-quarters of it to toss with some spaghetti or rice noodles and some finely sliced raw veggies and save the remainder for the above dish!

I have come to love this particular peanut sauce that I came across on another food blog I follow–Skillet Chronicles–by Aleta Watson.

Thanks all you fellow bloggers for the constant inspiration!

Peanut Sauce

Peanut Sauce

–only slightly adapted from Skillet Chronicles

generous ½ cup smooth peanut butter

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon grated ginger

4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced to a paste

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

½-1 teaspoon chili flakes or hot chili sauce (to taste)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon  brown sugar

2 tablespoons hot water

Blend all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth and set aside. Toss with cold noodles and veggies or serve with rice or use as a dip for steamed veggies or roasted meat. This sauce keeps very well in the fridge for a week, tightly covered (or your fridge will smell like garlic and peanut butter and sesame oil!)

Happy Cooking and Eating!

Salad Rolls

I used to buy Salad Rolls for lunch when I worked downtown (Portland) from one of my favorite food carts. They were fresh and inexpensive and the peanut sauce was addictive. And I didn’t have to wait in line since they were ready-made and I always had exact change. Sounds pretty rushed for the devoted “Slow Foodie” that I am. . . . but sometimes work called!

Now many years later, I’ve finally learned to make them. I held a private cooking class this weekend and was asked to teach an Asian-inspired menu. Salad rolls were the first thing that came to mind so that was our starter.

This dish brought with it a conversation (mostly with myself) about using local produce. My classes/menus (and my everyday cooking) are driven by the produce I buy at the farmers’ markets. All of a sudden I found myself wanting/needing basil, mint, and cilantro–none of which are at local farmers’ markets right now. I bit the bullet and bought these things at the grocery store. I actually buy cilantro at the grocery store occasionally without giving it much thought but not the basil and mint. I grow both, but the mint is barely peeking out of the ground at the moment and of course the basil is months away. Now I do buy oranges and bananas in the winter and plenty of other non-local staples but because of the plethora of wonderful veggies that do grow here year-round,  I’ve never really bought much produce out of season. I’m bemused and interested by my mental games and parameters I’ve somewhat unwittingly developed. More on this in a later post and I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the subject. . . .

My conclusion, post salad roll making and eating, is that a) I’ll plant more basil this year, and add cilantro to the mix (hoping it doesn’t bolt too fast) and b) I’ll occasionally  indulge in salad rolls out-of-season too. They were just so good and so light and fresh after months of heavier winter fare.

One of my early attempts - before I wised up and skipped the lettuce and just used herbs. Much tastier and easier to roll.

So, now to the recipe. I adapted recipes from Gourmet for both the rolls and the peanut sauce. I made enough changes that I’m posting my versions here, but here’s also the original in case you’re curious.

Herb Salad Spring Rolls – adapted from Gourmet

1 ounce bean-thread (cellophane) noodles

1 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar

eight 8-inch rounds rice paper plus additional in case some tear

1 green onion (scallion), cut into 2-inch julienne strips

1/4 cup finely shredded carrot

3 oz firm tofu, well-drained and cut into thin strips

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, washed well and spun dry

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, washed well and spun dry

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, washed well and spun dry

Soaking Rice Paper

In a bowl soak noodles in very hot water to cover 15 minutes and drain well in a colander.  With scissors cut remaining noodles into 3 to 4-inch lengths and in a small bowl toss with vinegar and salt to taste.

In a shallow baking pan or cake pan soak 2 rounds rice paper in hot water to cover until very pliable, 45 seconds to 1 minute.

Lay a dry dish towel on a large, flat dinner plate. Carefully spread 1 soaked round on it and blot top with other half of  dish towel. Peel paper off and place on plate (it will stick to the towel if you leave it on the towel). Leave remaining round in water, and blot with dish towel. Arrange several basil leaves on bottom half of sheet, leaving a 1-inch border along edge. Top basil with about one-fourth of noodles, arranging them in a line across lettuce. Top noodles with one-fourth each of scallion, carrot, tofu, and cilantro and mint. Roll up filling tightly in rice paper, folding insides after first roll to completely enclose filling, and continue rolling.

Blot remaining soaked rice paper round on dish towel and blot other side then move to the plate. Wrap rice paper around spring roll in same manner. (Double wrapping covers any tears and makes roll more stable and easier to eat.) Wrap spring roll in rinsed and squeezed dish or paper towel and put in a resealable plastic bag. Make 3 more rolls with remaining ingredients in same manner. Rolls may be made 1 day ahead and chilled. Before serving, bring rolls to room temperature.

Halve rolls diagonally and serve with spicy peanut sauce.

Spicy Peanut Sauce  – adapted from Gourmet

3 garlic cloves, minced,

1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 1/2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

2 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

3/4 cup water

2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice (to taste)

In a small saucepan cook garlic and red pepper flakes in oil over moderate heat, stirring, until garlic is golden. Whisk in remaining ingredients (except lime or lemon juice) and bring to a boil, whisking. Simmer sauce, whisking, until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in lime or lemon juice. Sauce may be made 3 days ahead and chilled, covered.

Serve sauce warm or at room temperature.