Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fun with sesame...

Tonight's dinner had to be pretty speedy... while I was not going to have much time tonight, I got a head start this morning by cooking and shredding the chicken for this dish of Sesame Noodles with Shredded Chicken. This allowed me just enough time to prepare the rest of the ingredients.

We blitzed a healthy dose of toasted sesame seeds, creamy peanut butter, a couple cloves worth of minced garlic, brilliant fresh ginger, salty soy sauce, rice vinegar and just a touch of cayenne pepper sauce in a food processor until the ingredients were all groovin' with each other. If you don't have a food processor, a blender would be fine. Fairly thick as is, the nutty sauce is thinned out with hot water - you don't want it to become watery though, just add enough so it resembles the viscosity of heavy cream.

When that was done, we dropped a fistful of whole-wheat spaghetti into a pot of bubbling salted water - be generous with the salt when you add it to the water so the pasta is seasoned well. We like our pasta to still retain a little bite to the center and if you do as well, be sure to check it for doneness a minute or two before the directions state. The noodles are then rinsed to bring them down to about room temperature - don't worry about them sticking though... they will loosen up as soon as they are generously coated with pungent toasted sesame oil.

We added the shredded chicken I broiled earlier, along with mild scallions, shreds of bright orange carrots and the wicked peanut-sesame sauce. To add a little crunch, I scattered the top of each portion with chopped peanuts - for a visual punch, I then sprinkled with black sesame seeds. They are not always easy to find, so the same amount of toasted sesame seeds would be fine. If you've never tried the charcoal-colored seeds, they have a slightly more earthy note to them and have the benefit of adding a striking contrast.

We've actually made a somewhat similar dish back quite a few months ago, but we both loved the depth of sesame from two types of seeds and the slick toasted sesame oil this recipe provided. The peanut butter was not too assertive, but it definitely made itself known - the crunch from the nutty peanuts at the end was also a welcome contrast to the wheat-y pasta. Even if you prepared the chicken along side the rest, this dish was still a snap to prepare without too much effort - especially for a weeknight meal! One down side... I still ended up with quite a bit of clean up to do afterwards!

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