As is my wont lately, I've been getting my "inspiration" from the NYT Cooking / Food section(s).
While not all new try-outs are spicy, I do tend to lean that way lately. So, this go-round, I went with Spicy Sesame Noodles With Chicken and Peanuts.
C'mon! It's got spice. It's got peanuts. It's got sesame. What's not to like - unless, you know, vegan........
Let's just say, things didn't quite go as planned, but that's what happens when you try to shop on the fly and recreating the ingredient list in your head as you push the cart around the store. Things get missed. Substitutions get made
- 1 ½ tablespoons red-pepper flakes (yes! you read that correctly!!!)
- 1 ½ tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 ½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil, plus more as needed
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon neutral oil, like grapeseed or vegetable
- 6 tablespoons roasted, salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
- Rind of 1/2 orange, peeled into 2- to 3-inch strips
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 10 to 12 ounces ramen or udon noodles, preferably fresh
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
Let's start with the omissions and substitutions, shall we? Just get them out of the way, 'kay?
I had clementines, no oranges. I don't think it mattered tons, though I never did get any citrus anything in the final products. I forgot chives completely - I think they would have been a nice touch. And this is Ohio. Short of going to Asia town, I'm not getting fresh udon noodles. As it turns out, I didn't get the kind that boil at all. You nuke them. Not a deal breaker, but I should have paid more attention to THE ONE PACK IN THE GROCERY STORE!
In a medium heatproof bowl, stir together the red-pepper flakes, soy sauce and sesame oil. Set next to the stovetop.
Meanwhile, in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat, cook the 1/2 cup oil, peanuts and orange rind, shaking the pan occasionally, until the peanuts are golden and bubbling, 3 to 5 minutes.
Immediately pour the contents of the skillet over the red-pepper mixture (be careful of splattering!) and set aside.
Meanwhile, in the same skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add the chicken and press it down with a wooden spoon into a thin layer. Season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper and cook, without stirring, occasionally pressing the layer of chicken down, until the bottom is browned, 5 to 7 minutes.
Break the chicken up into small pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes more.
While the chicken cooks, cook the noodles according to package directions, until chewy but not soft.
Drain and toss with a bit of sesame oil. As we microwaved, we somehow missed the step of tossing them in sesame oil. This would have been a great addition - had I read this correctly and not improvised.
Remove and discard the orange rind from the chili oil. Off the heat, add enough chili oil to coat the chicken and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the pan. Add the noodles and toss, adding more chili oil to fully coat the noodles and chicken. (If you don't use all of the chili oil, you can store it in the refrigerator for 2 weeks in an airtight container.) Top with chives and serve at once.
So - outcome:
We both hesitated digging in, as the amount of red pepper flakes. And while it did creep to a slow burn, it wasn't overly spicy or unbearably hot. I think what retained the spice more than anything were the peanuts.
I do believe missing the sesame tossed into the noodles would have helped the flavour for sure, but it was good nonetheless.
I also think using regular spaghetti would have been just fine.
We did have chili oil left over - and leftover noodles / chicken. So we will add some of the unused oil when we heat this up for lunch.
This is something we'd definitely do again.