This is a fast, basic version of Asian peanut sauce and noodles. The sweet, salty, spicy, and sour flavors of soy sauce, fish sauce, peanut butter, jalapeño, and lime juice are blended up to make the sauce, which is then simply poured over cooked noodles and fresh veggies, for a quick weeknight meal. Add any other vegetables you like, or even a seared and sliced chicken breast for a heartier meal.
What to buy: Udon noodles are Japanese wheat noodles and soba noodles are Japanese buckwheat noodles. They can be found in gourmet grocery stores or in Asian markets. If you are having a hard time finding them, you can substitute whole-wheat linguine or spaghetti.
1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
12 ounces dried soba or udon noodles
3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
18 sprigs fresh cilantro, long stems removed
2/3 cup natural peanut butter (no added sugar)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons packed, peeled, and finely chopped fresh ginger (from about a 3-inch piece)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoonsfish sauce
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 2 limes)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1jalapeño, stemmed and coarsely chopped
2 medium scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced into 1/2-inch strips
1/2 medium English cucumber, thinly sliced crosswise
1Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the carrots and cook until just crisp-tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the carrots to a colander.
2Add the noodles to the pot of boiling water and cook according to the package directions. While the noodles are cooking, transfer the carrots to a small bowl and set aside. Place the colander in the sink.
3When the noodles are ready, drain them through the colander and rinse under cold water until cool. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl, drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil, and toss to coat; set aside.
4Place the remaining 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, cilantro, peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic, and jalapeño in a blender. Blend until smooth, stopping as necessary to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula (if the mixture is too thick, add hot tap water 1 teaspoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached); leave the sauce in the blender.
5Add the reserved carrots, scallions, bell pepper, and cucumber to the bowl with the noodles and pour the peanut sauce over top. Toss until well combined. Serve at room temperature or cold.