Thursday, October 1, 2015

Soba Noodles in Peanut Sauce

Hey everybody!  First post!  Welcome to Big World, Tiny Kitchen!  I'll be preparing meals with origins around the world from my tiny kitchen in my tiny apartment in a tiny town!  My first recipe will be one that features Soba noodles with a spicy peanut sauce.

This meal is adapted from this recipe, originally from Cooking Light.  This meal is a blend of different Asian ingredients.  Soba noodles originate from Japan, and if you've never heard of them, they are made from buckwheat flour.  Up in my rural, not especially ethnically diverse section of Northern Wisconsin, I've been able to find them in maybe one or two stores.  Fortunately, natural and organic foods are becoming more common, and at least in my experience, those locations also tend to carry more ethnic foods.  Here is the brand I found:

 If you absolutely cannot find soba noodles, you could always substitute something else--maybe whole wheat spaghetti?  Or some other kind of buckwheat pasta?  There's always room for creativity if you can't find what you're looking for!

Back to the recipe!  I'll also be making a spicy peanut sauce, which is more of a Chinese or Thai flavor than Japanese.  Now, the original linked recipe is delicious, but it's a bit of a "blank slate".  I decided to add more vegetables to make it more interesting, and to add more nutrition (I also doubled the recipe).  What follows is just what I did; you can add whatever you want!

First, put 1.5 to 2 pounds of chicken breasts in 3 1/3 cups of broth.  I actually cheated and dumped what broth I had leftover from an earlier meal and used water for the rest.  I then seasoned to broth/water with a bit of salt, some garlic granules, and powdered ginger.  Boil this until the chicken is done.

 I also threw in some broccoli when the chicken was about halfway done or so.

While this was boiling, I decided to chop up a yellow bell pepper and a red onion, and threw them into a pan with some oil over medium heat until soft.  I also put some of those matchstick-cut carrots in with the bell pepper and onion.  I know the original recipe says to use a vegetable peeler on a regular, uncut carrot, but these matchstick carrots are just so easy.  However, the thin strips of carrot you get with the vegetable peeler are very good with this meal.  Either way you decide to prepare it will be great!

For the sauce, combine 2/3 cup chicken broth, 2/3 cup peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of fresh, grated ginger, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1/4 cup honey, anywhere from 1 to 4 teaspoons of red pepper flakes, and 2-4 minced garlic cloves (we really liked garlic around here so I increased it to 4).

Note: for the ginger, I found these super awesome little pods of crushed ginger in the frozen section of Wal-Mart!  They are so easy to deal with--each pod is one teaspoon, so I just popped six of them into the sauce.  They thaw out in the sauce pretty quickly, so I didn't have a hard time mixing them in with the other ingredients.  It definitely beats getting the cheese grater out to grate some ginger root (and then having to clean up the cheese grater, ugh).

Once my chicken and broccoli were done boiling, I removed them but reserved the broth/water I cooked them in.  I used this to boil the soba noodles.  They only take about 3 minutes, and once they're done, don't forget to rinse them!  Otherwise, when you add them to the sauce, it is possible that you could end up with sticky, dry sauce.

As the noodles cooked, I chopped up the chicken into strips.

After the soba noodles were cooked and rinsed, I combined them with the sauce and added the chicken as well.

I left the vegetables out of the mix and opted to let those eating the meal (really just myself and my husband) top their dish with as much as they liked.  I also chopped up some green onions to use as a topping, and set out some dry roasted peanuts as well.

At the end of each blog post, I'm going to try to add something relevant to the culture that each recipe originated from.  Since soba noodles are Japanese, I'll include a Japanese song for today.  This is a metal song (sorry if you don't like metal!) by Maximum the Hormone called "F".  The song references one of the main villains in Dragon Ball Z (which is also from Japan) named Frieza (yes I am a huge nerd and I like metal).

This song, which Maximum the Hormone released back in 2008, actually attracted the attention of Dragon Ball Z's creator, Akira Toriyama, and was then used this year in the newest DBZ movie, Resurrection 'F', which features a return of Frieza.  Toriyama even used a single letter "F" in the title of the movie (rather than calling in Resurrection of Frieza or something), just like the song.

And for reference, here is the complete recipe for this entry:

1 1/2 to 2 pounds chicken breast
3 1/3 cups chicken broth
Dash of salt, ground ginger, and garlic granules or garlic powder
1 cup of broccoli
1 bell pepper (I used yellow)
1/2 a red onion (or one small onion)
1/2 cup matchstick-cut carrots

For the sauce:
2/3 cups chicken broth
2/3 cups peanut butter
2 Tbsp fresh, grated ginger
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 to 4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
3 stalks of green onion as garnish
Dry roasted peanuts as garnish

Boil chicken in 3 1/3 cups chicken broth, adding salt, garlic granules, and ground ginger as desired to season.  Add the broccoli about midway through.

Chop bell pepper and onion and cook with carrots in oil or butter until soft.

For the sauce, combine all ingredients well with a whisk.

When chicken and broccoli are cooked, remove them but reserve the broth.  Cook the soba noodles in the broth according to package directions, and be sure to rinse them.  As they are cooking, slice the chicken into small strips.

Combine chicken, noodles, and sauce; toss to coat well.  Top with cooked vegetables, and garnish with green onion and peanuts.

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