Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Peanut Noodles with Spring Greens. And an Egg.

For what it's worth, I wasn't complaining about the cold in February. Complaining about the dark, maybe. I save my temperature complaining for when it's hot out. It pairs well with my cantankerous stubbornness about air conditioning. Today peaked at 95°. Certainly not as hot as it can get around here, but just as certainly beyond comfortable.

Regardless of how warm it was today, here or where you were, we all have those days where the mere thought of turning on the stove makes you want to get another icy drink out. I've been realizing how much peanut sauce is a hot-weather staple for me recently: Fresh summer rolls dipped in it, drizzled over lettuce-wrapped rice (with or without anything else), or even just a bowl of veggies and a jar of peanut sauce.

This has been the recipe I've come back to more than others recently. Here, the peanut sauce dresses up cold buckwheat noodles tossed with long, thin cut cucumber or summer squash (inspired by zucchini noodles) and the piquant blend of greens I've been gradually thinning out of my garden. And ,just for good measure, an egg on top. Since discovering steam-cooked hard boiled eggs (a method which I can't recommend heartily enough), I've been putting them in all kinds of things. I'll let The Food Lab go into detail about the method, but by way of my recommendation, it is faster than other boil methods (since you only have to wait for ½" of water to come to a boil), and I have had an almost perfect peel record with it. The closest thing to an imperfect peel I've had since starting to use it is actually in the photos of this dish, and I'm pretty sure that one was my fault.

It's pretty good without the egg, too, though, and is totally vegan without it. If you're not eating eggs for whatever reason, the peanut sauce does provide a little protein, but I've also made and enjoyed this with crispy-fried bits of tempeh.

Peanut Noodles with Spring Greens

2 servings
  • 100 g soba noodles (one bunch)
  • 1 cucumber or small summer squash/zucchini
  • ¼ c. peanut sauce (see below)
  • 2-3 c. mixed baby greens (1-2 good handfuls per serving)
  • 2 eggs, boiled (or steamed!) to your preference (I like about 8 minutes here)
  • optional but nice:
    • scallion, sliced thin
    • a few sprigs of cilantro

Start by putting on water to boil the noodles and cook the eggs (if you've got time, you can use the same pot and do the eggs after the noodles). While the water is heating up, peel your cucumber or squash. They're both very tasty here, and bulk out the noodles with cool fresh flavor. If you've got a spiral slicer or julienne peeler, good for you. You know what to do, so go to town. Otherwise, use your vegetable peeler to peel thin slices off of the cucumber or squash until you get down to the seeds. If you prefer, you can slice these strips thinner to blend in with the noodles more.

Once the noodles are cooked, make sure to run cool water through them until chilled. Toss the noodles and cucumber/squash in the sauce until well coated. Divide up into bowls and toss with a handful of greens, then top with an egg.

Peanut Sauce

vegan, gluten-free depending on your soy sauce
makes about 1 cup of sauce
  • ¼ c. peanut butter (Mine is creamy, natural & salted. Yours will work too, but you might have to add more or less stuff)
  • 1-2 Tblsp. sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • ½-1 tsp. thick chili-garlic sauce like Sriracha or sambal oelek
  • (or more, to taste)
  • 2 Tblsp. soy sauce
  • ¼- c. water
Add all ingredients except water. Add water a tablespoon or so at a time, stirring until thoroughly combined before adding more water. If you add too much water at once, the suspension will break and you'll get weird thready peanut-butter bits in seasoned water. If this happens, add a little more peanut butter and stir until smooth. You'll have to add more water later. Adjust seasoning as necessary.

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