Noodle Around in the Kitchen
Save money and maximize health with a new twist on pasta night
It’s no secret that pasta is cheap. For fifty cents or less per serving you have the foundation for an entrée. But don’t limit yourself to spaghetti or macaroni-in-a-box dinners. You can stretch your pasta repertoire using noodles in your supermarket’s Asian food aisle.
“Asian noodles are versatile,” says Corinne Trang, a New York cooking instructor and author of “Noodles Every Day” cookbook. Asian cooks emphasize noodles because they’re economical, unlike protein ingredients. “People use smaller amounts of protein and accent dishes with vegetables and seasonings.” However, unlike in the U.S. where a bowl of spaghetti and sauce is the meal, Asians eat noodles as a snack.
“It’s not the real meal because it doesn’t have rice,” says Trang, who doesn’t let that distinction stop her from creating delicious main-course noodle dishes. “When I cook any type of Asian food, including noodles, it’s important to me to celebrate the main ingredient and enhance it, rather than mask it.”
She suggests taking inspiration from seasonal ingredients, leftovers or your favorite dishes. How about a variation on sushi using soba noodles and smoked salmon? Remember to keep the protein portion modest and go easy on any sauce.
“You don’t want big chunks of anything,” Trang says.
In her appealing book, the author divides the recipes by type of noodle such as wheat, egg and buckwheat. Unfortunately, your supermarket may be limited in the types of noodles it stocks. Udon wheat noodles are readily available and you can use Italian egg pasta if you can’t find Asian egg noodles, Trang says. The following recipe is adapted from “Noodles Every Day.” Trang’s recipe calls for 10 ounces of dried ramen (egg) noodles instead of the udon noodle version here.
Cold Noodles with Chicken
1 (8.8-ounce) package udon noodles
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons peanut butter, preferably crunchy
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 to 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
1 cup shredded cooked chicken (1 small chicken breast or 2 small thighs)
1/3 cup minced scallions
1 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add udon noodles. Stir. Cook for 8 minutes or until tender. Drain well. Rinse under cold water. Set aside in a large serving bowl. Stir together vinegar, peanut butter, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil and chili garlic sauce. Pour over noodles. Toss gently but well. Stir in chicken. Sprinkle on scallions and cilantro and toss. Makes 4 servings.
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