February 7, 2013

Thai Peanut Noodles

There's this awesome Thai place we like to go to every once in while--one of those hole in the wall types that you never hear about unless your husband's boss used to live in Thailand and loves to scope out Thai restaurants and happens to tell you about it.  It's called Tea Rose Diner (doesn't really look or sound Thai, but it is), and as far as I can tell, the food is authentic and delicious.  While I'd love to go there all the time, I can't.  Sometimes you've got to make it yourself to keep your budget happy.  Thai recipes often have long lists of ingredients that I have never heard of before.  So when a friend made this recipe for me and I saw that it only calls for normal-ish ingredients, I knew it was going in the recipe box.  We're having it for dinner tonight, actually (and probably for three more nights afterward).  This is a make-ahead kind of recipe, so I made it this morning, and I've definitely snacked on it already.  Mmm... Is it dinner time yet?

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Thai Peanut Noodles
(adapted from this recipe and this recipe)

16 oz whole wheat linguine
1/4 cup sesame oil
1.5 - 2 tsp crushed red pepper (You can use more or less, depending on how spicy you want it to be.  If you're used to the ratings in Thai restaurants, 1.5 tsp would be about a level 1, while 1 Tbsp would be about a level 3.  If you're making this for the first time, start out with less--that way you can add more the next time and don't end up with a whole pile of noodles that are too spicy to enjoy.)
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 carrots, peeled and shredded (the carrots neutralize the spiciness a bit, so if you made it too spicy, just pile on the carrots)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
3/4 cup peanuts, roughly chopped

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain and rinse in cool water.
2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the sesame oil and crushed red pepper.  Warm the oil over medium heat for about 2 minutes.  It doesn't need to boil or anything, just get a little warm.  You'll smell it when it starts to work.
3. Strain out the crushed red pepper using a fine mesh sieve, and reserve the sesame oil in a large mixing bowl.  You can toss out the red pepper now.  It's done its job already.  Mix the honey and soy sauce into the oil, and stir to until combined.  Throw in the noodles, and mix well.  Cover the bowl, and refrigerate it overnight or until it's cold (which can actually take quite a while, so make sure you start early).
4. To serve, simply toss with green onions, carrots, cilantro, and peanuts.  You're in business!  

Also, here's a fun fact about spicy food: Did you know that eating spicy food causes your body to release endorphins?  So you will feel happier after eating a really spicy meal?  True story.

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