In Which a Homemade Dish is Lots Better Than Takeaway…

Peanut noodles, anyone?

Peanut noodles, anyone?

To everyone whom I worried with my last post, let me apologise in all sincerity.  It has been an extremely difficult time and I have not had the easiest time coping with all the stress.  Rest assured, however, that I am on the mend; I’m taking some time away from the rat race for a bit – taking advantage of the APEC holiday, to be exact – to get myself back on track.

But, anyway, to the business at hand: I adore the cold Asian noodles served at Peanut Butter Co. over at the Paseo Centre in Makati.  It’s a dish that never fails to satisfy: cold noodles tossed in a creamy, tangy peanut and sesame vinaigrette topped with freshly grated cucumber and diced tomatoes.  As stated before, it’s like a cross between Indonesian gado-gado and a Vietnamese noodle salad.

Unfortunately, given where I work these days, it has become nigh-on impossible to get my favourite lunch.  (Previously, I only had to traipse down the length of Paseo de Roxas, et voila: lunch is served!)  So I’ve despaired of ever getting to eat it again unless I had the moxie to make it myself.  (And, you know, of course, that I do.)  That said, I went through Google to look for a recipe.

It wasn’t easy to find one that suited me, of course.  Some recipes were dead-fiddly to do; others would force me to hunt down ingredients that were virtually impossible to find in this part of the world unless one braved traffic (and believe me when I say Manila traffic makes the situation in Bangkok look like a kids’ playground) and then some.  Finally, I found one that I could very easily tweak to suit my temperament and tastebuds.

This recipe is adapted from the one featured in The New York Times, an amalgam built from the collective input of author Sam Sifton, restaurateur Eddie Schoenfeld, and chefs Martin Yan and Marian Burros.  The NYT recipe uses fresh egg noodles which aren’t exactly easy to find.  Thus, I swapped these out for ramyeunsari, those Korean noodle packets that come without flavourings.  You could also use the noodles in standard instant noodle packets; just save the flavouring packs for another use.  Since I couldn’t find any sesame paste, – tahini or the Chinese kind – I just increased the amount of peanut butter in the mixture, which is a very good thing as it amplifies the nutty savour so integral to the success of the dish.  Also, if you haven’t got any chili-garlic paste, a squirt or two of sriracha or any other red-pepper hot sauce works wonders.

Note that this recipe is easily doubled in case you feel like feeding a crowd.

Takeaway-style Asian Noodles

  • 1 pack ramyeunsari noodles or 2 standard packs of instant pancit canton, flavouring packets saved for another use
  • 2 tablespoons creamy/smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger or 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili-garlic paste or hot sauce, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely shredded Chinese (Savoy) cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons shredded cucumber
  • 1 tablespoon diced tomato

Cook the noodles in boiling water for about 3-4 minutes.  Drain and rinse in cold running water; drain well.  Transfer to a clean dish and toss with a sprinkle of sesame oil.  Refrigerate for about 10 minutes.

While the noodles are chilling, make the dressing by combining the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, peanut butter, remaining sesame oil, ginger, sugar, and chili paste or hot sauce.  Whisk well until properly emulsified.  Pour over the chilled noodles and toss well.  Refrigerate an additional 10-15 minutes for the flavours to meld.

Transfer the dressed noodles to a serving bowl and top with the vegetables.  Consume immediately.

Serves 1 – 2.

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