I like trying new recipes. But I find one particular kind of cuisine more challenging than most. Asian. I know that’s a broad category, but, mostly I mean Chineses and Thai food. I have found that more than with any other kind of cuisine, Asian food is an exact science. The kind/brand of sesame oil, or rice vinegar, or soy sauce makes a difference. The blend of ingredients has to be just right, or it tastes “off”. Or it doesn’t taste like anything, just horribly bland. I have made “bad” pad thai, chow mein, lemon chicken and more. I suppose I could blame the cook (me), but I choose to believe that the recipes have been at fault. Or the quality of the ingredients. Anyway. Today, I tested a recipe for Spicy Sesame Noodle Salad (from Chatelaine magazine). I plan to tweak it next time with some chicken and maybe some extra veggies, but even as is, following the recipe exactly, it was a keeper. Here it is:
- 1 head broccoli
- 1/2 (500 g) pkg spaghetti or fettuccine
- 3 tbsp (45 mL) dark sesame oil
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp (45 mL) olive oil
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) soy sauce, preferably light
- 1/2 tsp (2 mL) each hot chili flakes, coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 cup (250 mL) coarsely chopped cilantro
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup (75 mL) chopped unsalted peanuts
· To cook pasta, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and boil until al dente, 8 to 10 min. Meanwhile, slice florets from broccoli, then cut into small pieces. Add broccoli to boiling pasta water for last 2 min of cooking. Drain pasta and broccoli, then return both to saucepan.
· Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) sesame oil in a small frying pan, preferably non-stick, set over medium-high heat. In a small bowl, whisk egg, then pour into pan. Tilt pan to make a thin omelette. Cook just until egg is set and light brown, about 30 sec to 1 min per side. Turn onto a cutting board. When cool, roll up and thinly slice into strips. Set aside.
· In a small bowl, stir olive oil with rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, chili flakes, salt and pepper. In a small frying pan, set over medium-low heat, add remaining 2 tbsp (30 mL) sesame oil. Add garlic and red pepper. Stir often until pepper begins to soften, 2 to 3 min. Turn over noodles and stir in olive oil mixture. Add cilantro, green onions and peanuts. Toss to mix. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.