When we lived in New York City, one of our favorite splurges was warm sesame noodles from our neighborhood Chinese restaurant. The plate arrived with a nest of white noodles and enough thick peanut sauce to cover a plate three times the size. We loved it and always spooned up the extra sauce before allowing the server to clear.
In the intervening years, I’ve grown to prefer more vegetables and more complexity to my sesame noodles, and have served the Szechuan Noodles from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook at more parties than I can count. But her recipe calls for ingredients I don’t have on hand as much now as I used to. I guess having three kids changed the contents of my pantry! So I was delighted to flip through Parade inside our Sunday Denver Post and discover a recipe for Sesame Noodles by the marvelous Dorie Greenspan, a food writer I worked with years ago. Her recipe is heavy on veggies and sized for a family, plus it calls for ingredients I normally have around. Except for fresh ginger, that is. I admit I’ve made this dish without all the fresh ginger for a quick weeknight dinner and it was still good, though it is definitely better with the ginger.
This recipe is a good one for this season because it’s flavorful and satisfying, plus it helps me use up the carrots and peppers that are still coming in from my winter CSA. I’ve modified the original recipe to suit what I had on hand, including three pork chops left from dinner the night before. You could also use chicken breasts, as originally specified in the recipe, or make a fantastic vegetarian version.
Sesame Noodles with Pork
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s recipe in Parade (10-18-09)
6 T. peanut butter
5 T soy sauce
1 T sugar
1 T warm water
1 T dark sesame oil, plus more to drizzle over spaghetti
1 T rice vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced ginger
1/2 pound thin spaghetti
1/2 pound thin pork chops, cooked and sliced into thin, bite-sized strips
1-2 T olive oil
2 large carrots, julienned
1/2 yellow pepper, julienned
1/2 red pepper, julienned
1-2 T cilantro, chopped
Chopped peanuts for garnish, if desired
Put the water on to boil for the noodles. Cook the spaghetti and drain, then drizzle with a little dark sesame oil and set aside. Meanwhile, make the sauce by combining the peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar, water, sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger and garlic in a blender. In a saute pan, heat oil and add pork chops, cooking over high heat until hot and slightly browned. Combine noodles with the sauce, pork, carrots, peppers and cilantro. Pass peanuts at the table, if desired.