Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chinese Peanut Noodle Salad

Cravings are a funny thing - when you have them, you just have to eat that food and nothing else will quite do. You can try to satisfy that craving some other way, but you somehow end up just feeling dissatisfied. Luckily, with a fully stocked cupboard and freezer, most things are possible. I've been working on the photos for my book and it has been intense and all of a sudden, I started craving Chinese Peanut Noodle Salad. Actually, I first started craving peanut butter but didn't have any celery and I didn't want any jelly. And then it came to me that I needed to make this classic Chinese Peanut Noodle Salad. Noodles or pasta of any kind are comforting to me. This was one of those dishes that I had only once in a while as a child and I just loved it then and still do now. Luckily, it is so easy to make as long as you have peanut butter on hand and I always do. I also had a leftover chicken breast in the fridge along with a red pepper and some green onions. I also had some leftover spaghetti noodles so this meal ended up taking only minutes to make and it was so delicious. 

Peanut Noodle Salad is a great pot luck dish and I often serve it for Chinese New Year, but the only caution is that you shouldn't mix in the sauce until the last minute or the noodles can go pretty soft. It's a lovely light lunch on a hot day and an amazing midnight snack. Who am I kidding? I could eat it for breakfast too! If you cook the pasta right before making it, make sure to rinse them in cold water or the salad will be a little warm and I like it a little on the cooler side. But as my noodles were cold from the fridge, I warmed them slightly by running hot water over them. In any case, if you love peanut butter, you will love this salad. Try it - I think you will be very happy with it!

Chinese Peanut Noodle Salad

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
3 Tablespoons or more Hot Water
2 Tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar (unseasoned) - can use white wine vinegar instead
1 1/2 Tablespoons Toasted Sesame Oil
2 teaspoons sugar or honey
1/2 cup cooked chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces
1 red pepper, cut into small pieces
3 - 4 green onions (depending on size) cut into small pieces
salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 1 cucumber, peeled and seeded and cut into chunks

1/2 pound Spaghetti or Linguine noodles cooked according to package directions, rinsed and drained

2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon red chili flakes

Mix hot water with sugar or honey and stir until dissolved. Add peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar. Taste and add salt if necessary (depending on the brand of peanut butter) and pepper. In a large bowl, mix together noodles, chicken, green onions and red pepper. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and red chili flakes if you like it hot.

Five Element Analysis

This is actually a very balanced dish and the biggest clue is that it is colorful. The peanuts add the Earth Element. The soy sauce and sesame oil bring in the Water Element. The spaghetti noodles, chicken and vinegar come belong to the Wood Element. The red pepper and red chili flakes provide the Fire Element and the green onions add the Metal Element. This is balance in a bowl!

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