This past week, we were fortunate enough to have a gloriously warm and sunny day. In fact, the weather was so gorgeous that I almost forgot it was just the beginning of April. Warm weather naturally makes me think of cold Asian noodles. One of my favorite warm weather Asian noodle dishes is Sesame Noodles or Peanut Butter Noodles as I call them. Sesame Noodles are not only quick and easy to make, but also inexpensive and versatile as you can add whatever toppings you have on hand. I still remember the cloyingly gummy sesame noodles that I used to order for takeout when I was a poor college graduate student (now, I’m just a poor blogger ;)).
Fortunately, Sesame Noodles are super easy to prepare in your own kitchen. Although the sauce for Sesame Noodles, as the name implies, is based on using toasted sesame paste (not tahini, which is made with unroasted sesame seeds), peanut butter or any other nut or seed butter works just as well. In fact, I actually prefer the taste of peanut butter to the more traditional sesame paste that is used. With just a few Asian pantry items, Sesame Noodles or Peanut Butter Noodles can be prepared in no time.
Last weekend, I attended the annual IACP conference for the first time, which was an incredible experience. My head is still spinning from all the information I gathered throughout the conference. I met some amazing people and it opened my eyes to an incredible community that I hope to get to know better. I would encourage any of you who are serious about the food business to join this organization. I am still synthesizing everything I heard so I can (hopefully) translate it into something tangible for all of you and myself.
It’s been a whirlwind since I returned home from the IACP conference. I spent a day just catching up with all the laundry and mail, and straightening up the house (back to reality), plus two of my boys are on Spring break this week, so I had to jump right back into my cooking routine. Having been away from my kids for four days, I felt a bit guilty and made them something extra special for breakfast and lunch.
I made these Cold Asian Noodles with Peanut Sauce, Chicken and Vegetables for my kids for lunch the other day, just before dashing out the door to a fundraiser luncheon for an incredible cause for women and girls. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s tried to squeeze in as much as possible into every minute of the day.
Most moms would agree that women are great at multi-tasking, so here is a perfect example of how it is possible to put a delicious, healthy meal on the table while dashing out the door. An hour before I had to leave for this event, I managed to shower and get myself prettied up, make this one bowl noodle dish for my family (wearing a dress and standing in heels, which you will not find me wearing too often) and wash all the dishes. Just as I was finishing up around eleven o’clock, my 16-year old, who is on Spring break, rolled into the kitchen still looking a bit tired. Anyone who has teenagers can relate – they love to sleep in. Although it wasn’t quite lunchtime, he was more than happy to dig in.
Today, a group of bloggers is celebrating Harumi Kurihara, one of the Top 50 Women Game Changers In Food. I had never heard of Harumi before, but as soon as I knew she was the highlight for the week, I was instantly intrigued. After last week’s celebration of Elizabeth Andoh where I learned about Washoku Cooking, my antenna has been up on Japanese cuisine. In addition, at the IACP conference, I had the opportunity to take a cooking class with Hiroko Shimbo, a petite woman who is a powerhouse in the kitchen. I have to tell you that I have a whole new appreciation for the preparation and planning that goes into Japanese cuisine. Although there are many similarities between Japanese cuisine and other Asian cuisines, it is fascinating to delve deeper into the techniques and ideology of a specific ethnic cuisine.
So, who is Harumi Kurihara? She is a celebrity homemaker and television personality in Japan, often referred to as the Martha Stewart of Japan. Harumi is not a professionally trained chef, and is known for her home cooking, particularly for her ability to combine traditional and Western influences in her cooking style. She is the host of numerous television shows, the author of a popular Japanese recipe magazine, and has published 115 books with a total number of copies printed exceeding 22 million. In addition, she has her own original tableware, kitchen items, interior goods, aprons, and clothes, and she runs “share with Kurihara harumi” shops (55 branches in Japan). Harumi also manages “Yutori no Kukan” restaurants and “Café Yutori no Kukan” cafés (a total of 13 restaurants and cafes in Japan). After discovering who Harumi Kurihara was, I felt like an ignorant fool, having never heard of her. What an incredibly successful woman who should serve as an inspiration to all of us.
These Cold Asian Noodles with Peanut Sauce are kid-friendly, warm-weather friendly, and great for serving to a crowd when entertaining. In fact, I remember one of our friends preparing a large platter of cold noodles similar to this for a party that was substantial enough to feed 20+ people. All the components can be made ahead of time, so it’s perfect for entertaining or for a do ahead meal.
- 1 pound boneless chicken breast or thighs
- ½ onion, peeled
- One 1" piece of ginger, peeled and cut into thin slices
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, optional
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorn seeds
- 1 tablespoon sake or rice wine
- ¼-1/3 cup chicken stock (from poaching the chicken)
- ¼ cup peanut butter or other nut or seed butter
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon organic sugar
- ½ tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 8 ounces Asian rice noodles (I used Vietnamese size small rice noodles)
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon flavorless oil
- 1 egg
- cucumber, peeled, julienned
- red bell pepper, julienned
- toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
- minced scallions, for garnish
- hot chili bean pasta, for serving, optional
- Place chicken in a medium saucepan. Add water to immerse chicken completely. Remove chicken from water and place on a plate. Add onion, ginger, garlic, coriander seeds and black peppercorn seeds to water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add sake and chicken and bring to a boil. Once liquid boils, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, covered. Turn off heat and let pot sit on stovetop for another 15 minutes.
- Remove chicken from pot and let cool to room temperature. Shred using your fingers. Reserve. Strain chicken stock and reserve.
- Combine ¼ cup chicken stock, peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, ginger, and garlic in a bowl, and whisk until smooth. It is easier to incorporate all the ingredients if you use warm broth. The Peanut Sauce will thicken as it sits or if it is refrigerated, so add more broth if you need to thin the sauce out.
- Cook rice noodles according to package instructions. Do not overcook or noodles will become mushy. Rinse well with cold water and drain. Drizzle sesame oil on top and toss gently. This will help keep noodles from sticking to each other.
- Heat oil in a small omelette pan over medium heat. Beat egg gently and add to pan, swirling egg around to thinly coat bottom of pan. When bottom is set, about 1-2 minutes, flip omelette over and cook other side for another minute. Remove to a cutting board and cut into thin strips.
- Divide noodles among four bowls. Arrange poached chicken, red bell pepper, egg omelette and cucumber on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions. Serve with Peanut Sauce and Hot Chili Bean Sauce, if desired.
If you’re interested in joining our group as we cook our way through this list of 50 influential women in food, just ask Mary from One Perfect Bite. Please stop by and take a look at what the rest of the group made this week in celebration of Harumi Kurihara:
Annie from Most Lovely Things
Linda from There and Back Again
Val from More Than Burnt Toast
Taryn from Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan from The Spice Garden
Heather from girlichef
Miranda from Mangoes and Chutney
Mary from One Perfect Bite
Sue from The View from The Great Island
Barbara from Movable Feasts
Nancy from Picadillo
Kathleen from Bake Away With Me
Veronica from My Catholic Kitchen
Mireya of My Healthy Eating Habits
Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook
Alyce – More Time at the Table
Amrita – Beetle’s Kitchen Escapades
Martha - Simple Nourished Living
Jill – Saucy Cooks
Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink