My intention had been to post this during the hot summer months when you might be most receptive to the idea of a cold-ish Asian noodle dish. But now that summer is mostly a fading memory of annoying, sweltering heat, alas, my timing seems a bit off.
But I’ve changed my mind about these noodles being best suited to a hot summer day (rather convenient, no?). I’ve decided that while they are lovely eaten cold, I rather prefer them warm-ish or at room temperature, which means I have also decided that fall is the perfect time for sesame peanut noodles.
OK, there really aren’t any seasonal limitations to preparing these noodles, but I’m just so happy that fall is here, and these noodles are so dang good, it all just seemed connected somehow.
Connected or not, these noodles contain some of my favorite Asian flavors… peanut, sesame, soy and a little kick from some crushed red pepper flakes. I’m also a big fan of soba noodles and they’re perfect here, but a whole grain spaghetti works equally well. I changed up the original recipe from The Kitchn to incorporate tofu and broccoli, which we love, but add in any veggies or protein you like. Or leave them out entirely... these noodles are good enough to stand on their own. No matter the season. Here’s the recipe…
Sesame Peanut Noodles
Recipe adapted from The Kitchn
As delicious as these noodles are, I felt the recipe needed a few tweaks. I bumped up the amount of peanut butter and soy sauce called for. I would also add a few more red pepper flakes to give it a bit more spice. We loved the soba noodles, but if you can’t find them, I would recommend a whole grain spaghetti or Chinese egg noodles. And you really must use a natural peanut butter that does not contain sugar… crunchy or creamy is your call. The more I make this, the more we love it. So far, our favorite version includes sliced baby zucchini and sliced red peppers instead of the broccoli and a bit of the pasta cooking water instead of chicken broth. No matter how you make this, it's some pretty great stuff.
1 lb of firm or extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil
8 ounces of soba noodles (or whole grain spaghetti)
2-3 cups of broccoli florets (or sliced zucchini)
5 scallions (white and light green parts) chopped (reserve some for serving)
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds (toasted white ones would be fine, too)
For the sauce:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced (you should have about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup natural peanut butter (no sugar added)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
chicken broth as needed
For the tofu:
2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix together the hoisin and soy sauce and place in a ziploc bag. Add the cubed tofu, mix to combine well, and let the tofu marinate for about 20 minutes. Spray a small baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place the cubed tofu on the baking sheet, and bake for 20 - 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Cook the noodles according to the package directions (I cook whole grain spaghetti for 6 minutes). When the noodles are about 3 minutes away from being done, add the broccoli florets, finish cooking and drain.
While the noodles are cooking, mix together the sauce ingredients in a jar or plastic container. Place the lid on tightly and shake to combine well. Add the sauce to a large saute pan and heat over low heat. Add the tofu, the noodles and broccoli, and most of the green onions. Using tongs, mix the noodles and tofu thoroughly with the sauce just until heated through. Add a couple tablespoons of chicken broth or pasta cooking water if the sauce seems too thick. But it shouldn't be thin or runny. You want it to coat the noodles.
Turn the noodles out into a serving dish and top with the remaining green onions and a good sprinkling of sesame seeds.