A few days ago I did a quick review of all of the recipes I’ve posted and I noticed that chili powder, chipotle peppers, and smoked paprika are pretty prevalent themes throughout. This is strange because I normally make a lot of Asian influenced dishes (hence the Thai Basil growing on my window sill), or simple Italian food. I have a deep love for Chinatown, so it’s no surprise that I end up with a lot of Asian grocery items in my pantry. Though I don’t claim that my Asian influenced plates boast any type of actual authenticity, I do love cooking with garlic, ginger, chili, and toasted sesame oil, which are the foundation of many Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese dishes. I often go into the kitchen not knowing what I’m going to make, and this recipe is a success story from one of those very evenings. Though most Asian food is fairly simple, this recipe is particularly easy because most of the ingredients, even the sesame peanut sauce, are raw. If you decide to omit the pork and go totally vegetarian, the only thing you’ll need to cook are the noodles (I used whole wheat noodles in this recipe because I hadn’t restocked my soba noodle stash when I made this for dinner this week). This recipe makes a least 6 servings, so if you’re feeding less people than that you can easily halve the recipe, or just make it all and enjoy hot or cold for lunch the next day.
1 tbs grapeseed oil
1 lb ground pork, lean (my ground pork is pasture raised antibiotic free from Lewis Waite Farm in Upstate New York)
3 cloves garlic, grated
¾ lb soba (buckwheat) noodles OR ¾ lb whole wheat spaghetti
1 large tomato, cubed
1 large summer squash or zucchini, julienne cut
1 green pepper, cubed
1 large red onion, cubed (if you decide to go raw, slice it very thin)
Sesame Peanut Sauce:
2 tbs toasted sesame oil
2 small cloves garlic
2 inch piece fresh ginger
¼ cup peanut butter
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
¼ cup tahini or sesame butter
¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
6 tbs water
2 tbs siracha (chili paste)
Juice of 1 lime
To start, put the water for the noodles/pasta on to boil, and add a considerable amount of salt to season the water. Once water comes to a roaring boil, drop the noodles and cook until al dente.
In a shallow saute pan, heat the grapeseed oil until hot and rippling. Add pork to pan and let it brown while seasoning with salt and pepper and adding 3 cloves of grated garlic (I use my microplane). Saute until fully cooked, remove from pan, and set aside.
Add peppers and onions to hot pan and saute until tender. Set aside and make the Sesame Peanut Sauce. Sauce Making Tip: Since the sauce isn’t cooked, you want to make sure that you don’t get a chunk of raw garlic or ginger in your otherwise smooth sesame peanut sauce. Best way to prevent this: add the sesame oil, garlic cloves, and ginger to your food processor and pulse until the garlic and the ginger and oil create a smooth paste. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and pulse again until smooth. I don’t normally add any additional salt, but you should taste it and see if you feel the sauce needs some more.
Once the pasta is cooked, the sauce is mixed, and the vegetables are prepared, toss everything together until evenly coated with sesame peanut goodness. If you’re feeling fancy you can garnish with some toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallions.