I love when a new recipe directs me to an ingredient I have never heard of or worked with before. There’s that moment of fear at the market when you say the name out loud for the first time, wondering just how horribly you botched it’s pronunciation. There’s a prickly moment of anticipation when you begin to cook and again when you taste it, knowing you may have completely screwed up, rendering it nearly inedible. Finally, there’s the moment when you serve it, smiling, to your dinner guests and tell them it’s quite possibly the best thing you’ve ever tasted, hoping desperately that they’ve never heard of it before either*.
This is cooking at it’s best. This is “What I Haven’t Cooked Yet” is all about. I love nothing more than trying new things, taking a chance, failing miserably sometimes, and getting right back on that figurative horse. It’s the only way you learn, and there is joy and fellowship in sharing these adventures with others.
So grab some soba noodles – Japanese buckwheat pasta – rich, dark, Japanese tamari soy sauce, deep, roasted sesame oil and that odd beast, fresh, unsalted peanut butter, with a skim of oil over the top, and make this wonderful cold summer salad. Feel free to get it wrong a few times, but each time you bring it to the table smile, tell them it’s magnificent, and enjoy every minute of your time together.
*This, of course, is significantly more fun if you’ve just laid down the weekly grocery budget for something like dried porcini mushrooms or a rack of lamb. Soba noodles are cheap.
Asian Peanut Noodle Salad
- 1/2 pound soba noodles
- 3 medium cucumbers, peeled, halved, seeded and sliced
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh, unsalted peanut butter*
- 3 tbs Tamari soy sauce
- 2 tbs sesame oil
- 1/4 cup Serrano Chile Honey Vinegar**
- Sriracha hot sauce
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Fresh cilantro
*The oil separates and rises to the top in fresh peanut butter. Just stir it into the jar before using. You can find organic brands like Teddy Bear on your grocery store shelf. If you are allergic to peanuts, try Tahini, a toasted sesame seed paste, or another nut butter.
**Brand new from Sapore. The vinegar is actually fermented honey. OMG! You can substitute 1 tsp chili oil and 3 tbs rice wine vinegar which will give you similar heat, mild acidity and sweetness.
- Cook noodles by adding the package to boiling, unsalted water. When al dente, drain and rinse with cold water.
- Make the dressing: Thin the peanut butter by whisking it with 1/4 cup warm water. Whisk in tamari soy, sesame oil and Serrano Chile Honey Vinegar (or chile oil and rice wine vinegar).
- Add Sriracha to taste and dress salad. Start slow and make sure you don’t overpower the noodles.
- Serve topped with cucumbers, fresh cilantro and sesame seeds.