TRUE CONFESSION: Put this spicy peanut sauce on anything -- a piece of shoe leather, marshmallows, or even the cauliflower I dislike so much -- and I will eat it. Put it on something I do like, and I will lick my plate clean. Peanuts and Japanese buckwheat noodles (soba) have a natural affinity, but this dish will be just as good with spaghetti, or whole wheat penne, or just about any type of noodle or pasta. One tip: don't stir-fry the vegetables for more than a minute. You'll like the crunch of barely-cooked Napa cabbage with the chewy soba. The recipe makes far more peanut sauce than you'll need. Store the extra in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, and use it as a dip or a dressing. You can thank me later.
Napa cabbage soba with spicy peanut sauce
1-inch thick slice fresh ginger, peeled and cut in half
10 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp chili paste with garlic, or more or less to taste
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup reduced-sodium or gluten-free soy sauce
7 Tbsp sugar (or equivalent sugar substitute)
7 Tbsp Chinese black vinegar (or Worcestershire sauce)
6 Tbsp toasted sesame oil (the kind you get in Asian groceries — I use Maruhon brand)
4 oz thin soba noodles
2 tsp canola oil
2 cups thinly shredded Napa cabbage
1 small bell pepper (any color), diced
3-4 large mushrooms (any type), sliced
1 large scallion, thinly sliced
In a food processor with a metal blade (or in a blender), finely chop ginger and garlic. Add next 6 ingredients in the order listed, plus 10 tablespoons of water, and process until smooth. The peanut sauce should be the consistency of heavy cream. If too thick, add more water. Set aside.
Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a saucepan. Drop the soba into the water, bring the water back to the boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, until the soba is cooked but not mushy. Drain, rinse under cool water, and drain again. Place in a large mixing bowl.
Heat a wok over high heat. Swirl in the oil, and then all at once add the cabbage, bell pepper, mushrooms and scallion. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes at most; the vegetables should be crunchy. Add them to the bowl with the soba.
Stir in enough peanut sauce to bring the vegetables and noodles together. (Extra peanut sauce will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks.) Serve at room temperature.
More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Cold soba salad with peppers and ponzu dressing
Asparagus, pepper and peanut soba
Grilled tofu with soba noodles
Tofu and green bean stir-fry with spicy peanut sauce
Stir-fried garlic lettuce
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Cold soba noodles with dipping sauce, from Just Hungry
Almond soba noodles, from 101 Cookbooks
Japanese salmon with soba, from Andrea Meyers
Green tea soba noodles with seared tuna, from My Cooking Hut
Ginger beef soba noodle soup, from Eliza Domestica
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