Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cheap-ass recipe of the week: Spicy peanut-ginger noodles with veggies


2 packages Ramen noodles* (you won't need the flavor packet)
2 12-oz. bags of frozen veggies (an Asian veggie mix including bean sprouts is usually best, or sweet-tasting veggies like carrots and pea pods, but you have a lot of leeway here).
6 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce ("reduced sodium" will taste better)
4 heaping tablespoons peanut butter (natural, creamy, or even chunky)
2 heaping teaspoons minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons grated fresh (not powdered) ginger
pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste

crushed peanuts (optional)

1. To make sauce: Combine water, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add peanut butter and whisk until smooth (you can use a fork if you don't have a whisk). Add garlic and ginger, and whisk again. (We're talking maybe 30 seconds of whisking. Don't knock yourself out, here.)

Taste to see if the sauce needs more kick (I usually add a bit more ginger at this point).
Add a pinch of cayenne, to taste. I love hot food, but I'm going to suggest YOU start with 1/8 tsp - 1/4 tsp of cayenne rather than the rather larger amount I use....and then add more if you think it's not spicy enough! Or you can leave the cayenne out if you're a spice weenie.

2. Stir fry veggies a few minutes until they're cooked but still have some firmness...because mushy veggies are gross.

3. Boil noodles 2 - 2 1/2 minutes (save the flavor packets for a rainy day...plain ol' "Oriental Broth" can be nice sometimes). Don't boil the noodles for quite the whole 3 minutes recommended on the want them slightly under-done because they get gooey very easily in this recipe!

4. Drain noodles, toss in a big bowl with veggies. Gently mix sauce into noodle/veggie mixture.

A couple of tablespoons of crushed peanuts sprinkled on top are a really nice addition if you've got them.

You're done! Makes about 4 servings.

Leftovers: You'll notice that the garlic will become more pronounced when the noodles are refrigerated, and the ginger (which is a fragile flavor) will be diminished, throwing off the balance. Adding a little more grated fresh ginger to the leftovers is recommended (but do it AFTER reheating the noodles).


Variation: Spicy peanut-ginger noodles with veggies with tofu

Add chunks of "chewy" (frozen-and-thawed) tofu to the noodles and veggies.

Cut about 1 cup's worth of the tofu into 1 inch cubes.
Pour a little bit of soy sauce over them and let them soak it up.
Very lightly sear the tofu, just enough to warm it up (unless you like it crispy; I don't).
Add to the noodle-veggie mix and toss with peanut sauce.


*Note to vegetarians: If you're frustrated by the scarcity of meatless ramen noodles, I just wanted to point out that one commonly-found flavor, Nissin Top Ramen's "Oriental" flavor (in the dark blue wrapper) is reportedly vegan. Nissin confirms this in their FAQ: "Our Top Ramen Oriental flavor contains no animal products."
Be careful not to by the Maruchen brand instead -- their Oriental flavor contains beef.

1 comment:

  1. Great tip!

    Say, I'd email, can't find one, but I'm a vegetarian screenwriter that loves to cook and save feral cats too (have three rescue kittens now, plus three old-timers and a rescue dog).

    Just had a few q's for you, not on your identity, but about a few business ideas concerning our common interests. Thanks.