May 9, 2010

Peanut Sesame Noodles with Chicken

This recipe is another one of my go-to's, I make it just about every time I host a Shabbat lunch. Because as I've mentioned before, it's much easier to eat dishes meant to be served cold when you don't have a hot plate (basically the only Shabbat-approved way to heat things up). I've always enjoyed peanut sesame noodles and this recipe is a great way to stretch a buck; it can feed up to 6 people as a main dish and last week I served it (with several other dishes) to 13 people. And it only uses about a pound of chicken, if I was going to serve 6 people a chicken dish, I'd need about 3 pounds. You also can make it without the chicken, I don't think it adds too much other than making the dish a more "complete" meal. I don't know if cucumber is a common ingredient in cold sesame noodles, but my mom used to use a recipe that called for finely chopped cucumber, I like grating it right into the sauce; I think it really lightens up the flavor and adds freshness to the flavor. The pasta and chicken can be cooked in advance (I usually do it Thursday night in preparation for Saturday lunch), and the sauce can be made and mixed in right before serving. I apologize for the lack of exact measurements in the sauce, it's something I'm working on, but have failed at this juncture. I think that the measurements are really to taste, when I make the sauce it isn't super peanut-buttery, but that's the way my guests and I like it, you can make it however you want, you don't even need to use all the ingredients.


1+ lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into very small strips before cooking
vegetable oil
1 lb bucatini (spaghetti with holes in it)
~5 scallions, thinly sliced
sesame seeds

Yummy Asian sauce (I got this idea from the Garlic Noodles recipe)
2 T brown sugar
2 t soy sauce
1.5 T hoisin
1 t sesame oil

Peanut Sesame Sauce
1/2 c Peanut Butter
1 T Sesame Oil
1 t Rice Vinegar
2-4 T Soy Sauce
~1 T honey
~1 t hot sauce
1-2 T brown sugar
1 T hoisin
1-4 T veg oil
1 small cucumber shredded

Bring a pot of water to boil, generously salt it, and break the bucatini (pasta) in half before dropping it in to cook; it is nearly impossible to handle if you don't break it in half, so don't forget this step. In my experience the bucatini just needs to be watched for readiness, needing at least 10 minutes, it's kind of a fickle pasta but I'm usually already at the stove cooking the chicken in the meantime, and I think the straw shape is cool. You can use any long pasta, I think thick spaghetti or thicker would be best because I'm not confident angel hair or regular spaghetti would hold up to the sauce.

While the pasta is cooking, heat some oil in a pan to prevent sticking and cook up the small pieces of chicken breast. When the chicken is just about done cooking, add in the Yummy asian sauce and let it cook down a little to coat the chicken. The sauce isn't necessary, but why not give the chicken it's own flavoring. Once you're confident the chicken is cooked and coated, put it into your serving/storage dish with the cooked pasta. If you used too much oil like I occasionally do, just take the chicken out with a slotted spoon.

I usually drizzle a little sesame oil and/or vegetable oil over the pasta so it doesn't become a solid mass in the refrigerator. The noodles and chicken should be cool for this dish, but it does not need to be refrigerated overnight. I store the noodles and chicken in the same dish (in my case, a disposable aluminum pan) I plan on serving them in, it's just easier that way.

To make the sauce: Put all ingredients (except oil and cucumber) in a bowl and mix, if you are mixing with a spoon, just be patient, eventually it will all come together. When the sauce looks fairly homogeneous, it probably won't look like it will be easy to distribute over that much pasta. This is where the oil comes in, vegetable oil is flavorless, but oily (duh), so add just enough to make the sauce tossable. Then grate in the cucumber, this will probably make the sauce less attractive, but go with it.

Add the scallions and some toasted sesame seeds to the pasta and chicken, then toss it all with the sauce. Enjoy!