January 14, 2009

Crunchy Asian Peanut Noodle Salad



小时候最爱隔壁觉园(尼姑庵)老师傅的凉面。也没有什么特殊的佐料,就是比别家的好吃。还是佛家说得好 - 心诚则灵。做好吃的饭菜也终究是一个“诚”字。我没有老师傅心诚,所以我的凉面也要比她的差一点点。就一点点。将就吧,要求不高的人是快乐幸福的人。

Baking requires scientific approach. Accurate measurement of ingredients calls the shots. Salad-making provides much more rooms for personalization. The measurement of the ingredients of the dressing does not need to be exact. If you like more peanut-buttery flavor, add more peanut-butter; if you want to be more healthy, use less oil; or you prefer to have the dressing more sour, add more vinegar; if you are one of those people who grow up in the hot source like me, just simply go crazy with the chili pepper.

This noodle salad is pretty much similar to the one from my hometown, except the addition of the peanut butter and replacement of egg-noodle by the whole-wheat spaghetti. The whole-wheat noodle actually adds pleasing texture to the bite, in addition to the nutrition and fiber.

In my childhood, I absolutely loved the cold noodle made by the nun next door. I don't recall any special secret ingredients were used, but her cold noodle no-doubt tasted better than the cold noodle from anywhere else. There is an old Chinese saying - the purist mind creates the best recipe. Guess my mind is not as pure as hers, with all the stressful workload and freaking nutty life we have to deal with. My noodle was not quite as good as the cold noodle in my memory. Just a tiny little bit short. Oh, well, it's good enough. Tip of the Day: Those who don't seek perfection are the happiest in the world. Enjoy!

1) 1 box of whole wheat think spaghetti (a box)

Cook the Noodle
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Tip: I coated the noodle with a tbs of sesame oil or olive oil and let the noodle cool. This prevent the noodle from being sticky, and also adds flavor to the noodle.

1) 1 pound sugar snap peas
2) 2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded, and thinly sliced
3) 1/2 pound bean spouts

Cook the Veggies
1) Bring another large pot of salted water to a boil, add the sugar snap peas, return to a boil, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp tender.
2) Lift the sugar snap peas from the water with a slotted spoon and immerse them in a bowl of ice water. Drain.
3) You may cook the peppers or not cook it. Up to you.

Ingredients for the Dressing
1) Kosher salt
2) 1/4 vegetable oil
3) 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
4) 1/3 cup soy sauce
5) 2 tbs dark sesame oil
6) 1 tbs honey
7) 2 garlic cloves, minced
8) 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
9) 2 tbs toasted white sesame seeds, divided
10)1/3 cup smooth peanut butter

Mix the Dressing
For the dressing, whisk together all the ingredients in a medium bowl.

1)2 scallions (with and green parts), sliced diagonally
2)3 tbs chopped fresh parsley leaves

Finish and Garnish
1) Combine the spaghetti, sugar snap peas, peppers and scallions in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the spaghetti mixture.
2) Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, and scallions and the parsley and toss together.

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