Indonesian Peanut Noodles with Vegetables

By Jenna Holst

Peanut sauce is often used in Indonesian cooking. Here, it’s used in a fabulous pasta dish. Instead of making the peanut sauce in Step 1, feel free to substitute Southeast Asian Peanut Sauce.

[Credit: iStockphoto.com/LUHUANFENG]
Credit: iStockphoto.com/LUHUANFENG

Yield: 4 servings as a main course; 6 to 8 servings as a first course

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Spice meter: Moderately spiced to hot and spicy

Sauce:

1/2 cup natural or creamy peanut butter, preferably unsweetened

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/4 cup light soy sauce

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 to 4 tablespoons hot water or chicken broth

1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or 1 to 2 heaping teaspoons sambal oelek or Chinese garlic chile paste

1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced

Noodles:

12 ounces udon, spaghetti, or vermicelli

3 scallions, white and green parts, sliced

1 medium carrot, grated

8 snow peas, strings removed, thinly sliced on an angle

1/4 English cucumber, peeled and cut into matchsticks

1/3 cup chopped roasted peanuts

2 tablespoons minced mint or cilantro

  1. In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, water, crushed red pepper flakes, and ginger. Set aside. If the sauce is too thick for your liking, thin with a little extra water or broth.

  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse the noodles under cold water until they are cool.

  3. Have a bowl of iced water ready. Cook the carrots and snow peas in lightly salted boiling water for 1 minute. Do not overcook.

    Drain in a sieve and immediately plunge the sieve, with the vegetables in it, into the iced water to stop the cooking. You may prepare the vegetables while the pasta is cooking.

  4. In a serving bowl, combine the pasta, scallions, carrot, snow peas, and cucumber. Top with the peanut sauce and toss. Garnish with peanuts and mint.

It’s easy to make the classic Chinese dish of cold Chinese noodles in sesame sauce by varying this recipe slightly. Omit the carrots, snow peas, chopped peanuts, and mint. You may substitute tahini or Chinese sesame sauce for the peanut butter, or use the peanut butter.

Substitute 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar for the lime juice. In Step 1, add 2 tablespoons of Chinese sesame oil and 1 to 2 plump cloves garlic, pressed or minced, to the other ingredients for the sauce and combine. Skip Step 3. In Step 4, combine the pasta and sesame sauce and toss. Garnish with the cucumber.

Per serving: Calories 410 (From Fat 199); Fat 22g (Saturated 3g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 854mg; Carbohydrate 42g (Dietary Fiber 4g); Protein 15g.

Southeast Asian Peanut Sauce

This popular and versatile sauce appears in many versions throughout Southeast Asia. It can be used as a condiment for saté (an Indonesian dish of meat, fish, or poultry cubes served on skewers), grilled or sautéed meat, poached chicken breasts, rice, vegetables, and vegetable salads. Serve the sauce at room temperature.

Yield: About 1-3/4 cups

Preparation time: 10 to 15 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Spice meter: Moderately spiced to hot and spicy

3/4 cup natural or creamy peanut butter, preferably unsweetened

1-1/3 cups unsweetened coconut milk (about one can), chicken broth, or water

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

2 plump cloves garlic, minced

3/4 inch piece fresh ginger, minced

1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or 1 to 2 tablespoons sambal oelek or Chinese chile paste to taste

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine all the ingredients. Stir to mix evenly.

  2. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat. Let the sauce cool to room temperature before using.

Per serving: Calories 64 (From Fat 51); Fat 6g (Saturated 3g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 40mg; Carbohydrate 2g (Dietary Fiber 1g); Protein 2g.