19 August 2014

Eats: Easy Thai peanut noodles

Occasionally, during the weekly meal planning, I sigh and tell Mr. P that I just want pasta every night. (He replies, “Okay, let’s have pasta every night!” because he is literally the most agreeable man I know, but that is beside the point.) It’s not that I’m uninspired when I’m planning four pasta dishes – it’s quite the opposite. There are so many dang ways to prepare delicious noodles! You’ve got your stroganoff, your stir-fry with udon, your mac n’ cheese, and of course, eight dozen Italian dishes including good ol’ spaghetti. You can even mix in flavors not found in the country of origin (taco pasta, anyone?) and it’s still delicious.

So forgive me for making yet another Thai pasta today. I love pasta, and I love Thai food. So when Amalah offhandededly linked to this recipe at Epicurious, it was practically marching orders. (Perhaps that’s also because I love Amalah almost as much as pasta. I mean, she calls these Kung Fu Panda Peanut Butter Noodles to get her boys to eat them, which is cute but more importantly she can convince small children to eat Thai food. The post I linked isn’t incredible but this one still makes me cackle out loud years later. This one, too.)

Like most of my favorite pasta dishes, this one’s super easy and uses only ingredients I already had on hand. I started with boiling the pasta (a pound of linguine this time, but use whatever noodle you like):

While the pasta’s boiling, prepare the sauce. Minced garlic (I used about a tablespoon) is lightly sautéd in sesame oil:

Keep the heat low and watch it! No burnt garlic for you!

Once the garlic is barely golden, add the rest of the sauce ingredients: 2/3 cup of peanut butter, 1/3 cup soy sauce, two tablespoons of brown sugar, two tablespoons of rice vinegar, a tablespoon of red curry paste, a teaspoon of dried minced onion, and a few shakes of fish sauce.

Mix those together and bring to a gentle simmer on the stovetop.

By the by, if it seems like my ingredients list is massively scaled up from the Epicurious source, that’s because I was using almost three times as many noodles! If you want to scale back, by all means, you can follow their recipe more closely. The other changes I made were no hoisin sauce, because I didn’t have any, and no ginger, because I don’t care much for it.

And a very very important change: reserve a cup or so of pasta water. Thanks, commenters who told me I’d need it before I poured it all down the drain!

(Sorry for the claw-hand. Boiling water, hot glass, etc.!)

I can’t imagine how this sauce could possibly work without the extra pasta water. Without it, the peanut butter is WAY too thick and gunky. With it, you can actually form a sauce!

By the time the sauce is done, the pasta is ready to go – which should tell you how quickly this comes together!

When I stirred it all up and gave it a taste, I decided to add red pepper flakes and dried green onion. To each his own! You could add those things earlier if you want, or stir them in at the end to taste.

Oh my goodness. Doesn’t that make you want pasta every night, too?!

I cooked up some chicken to go with this, but I totally didn’t need to. This dish holds its own, no additional protein needed.

So, how does this hold up to the other Thai pastas I’ve made? I admit, my favorite is still my own refined-for-years curry recipe, which can totally be served over noodles instead of rice (and which also desperately needs re-photographing so it can look as good as it tastes). But that requires a can of coconut milk, which I don’t always have on hand. These peanut noodles are almost as delicious and can be made entirely with items I have on hand, and that’s worth keeping the recipe around!

If you could eat pasta every night too, you might want to add this one to your rotation. Enjoy!


Janice said...

Wow, looks delish! But must say, you're the only person I know who has FISH SAUCE... on hand! :)

I'm all about quick delicious recipes. Just might have to find me some fish sauce and give this one a try.

Sarah said...

@Janice, if you buy a bottle, you too will have fish sauce on hand for YEARS! I think I've only ever bought it twice. I keep it around because Asian dishes really benefit from a few shakes - the one time I ran out, I tried to do without for a while and actually noticed a difference!