It had me at the title: Spicy Sesame Noodles With Chicken and Peanuts. What is not to like about most of those words?
Of course, early on, I was bummed it wasn't sesame paste but oil. I have made sesame noodles (via paste), and it's been ok, but Ina made it a LOT of work. It got raves, but it was a LOT of work. This one seemed less so, but it sounded good.
Let's see if it was, shall we?
Yield: 4 servings
1½ tablespoons (!!!) red-pepper flakes
1½ tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1½ 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 ½ 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
Step 1 In a medium heatproof bowl, stir together the red-pepper flakes, soy sauce and sesame oil. Set next to the stovetop.
Step 2 Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat, cook the ½ 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.
Step 3 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.
Step 4 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.
Step 5 Remove and discard the orange rind from the chile oil. Off the heat, add enough chile oil to coat the chicken and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the pan. Add the noodles and toss, adding more chile oil to fully coat the noodles and chicken. (If you don't use all of the chile oil, you can store it in the refrigerator for 2 weeks in an airtight container.)
Top with chives and serve at once.
Verdict? It was ok.
1.5T of red pepper flakes, oddly didn't make it that spicy. The sesame oil didn't make it that peanuty - nor did the peanuts.
It was fine, but not great.
Oddly - or maybe not - the leftovers fared better. Yes, before reheating I put a splash more soy and sesame over the noodles. It helped.
I wouldn't say no to this one again, but it's not going into any kind of heavy rotation.