Spicy Soba Noodles in Peanut Sauce

Like many other Americans, I have a love affair with peanut butter. There’s something about that wonderful creaminess, the stick-to-your-rib-ness that keeps one full, and the myriad of combinations that work so well (apples! chocolate! jam! bananas! celery!).

While I was studying abroad in Australia, my mother asked me what foods I missed. I was eating a steady, wonderful diet of fresh fruits and vegetables (thanks to the great produce markets, and especially the Sunday rush when you could bargain you way down to about $1 for a mixed bag of whatever was left) and delicious Vietnamese foods (prepared by the Vietnamese chef who ran the canteen in our complex). Add to that the occasional grill-your-own steak from local bars and delicious Asian restaurants in our neighborhood, and I was set…

Except for one thing… Peanut butter M&Ms… Oh goodness, how I missed them. So my mother sent me a good 5 pounds of those dangerous things, which I ate until I was sick, and then gifted the remaining 3 bags to my Aussie classmates, who enjoyed these new treats with gusto. Yes, I ate 2 pounds of the stuff… You have a problem with that? 😉

My idea to make noodles in peanut sauce comes from a bottle of particularly difficult-to-spread all-natural peanut butter. This mean PB decided to wreck my love for peanut butter sandwiches by angrily ripping up the slices of bread I attempted to spread it on… After finishing 3/4 of the bottle I broke down during a moment of weakness and bought a jar of Jif (so ashamed!), and so it languished in the refrigerator.

This dish is bulked up further with buckwheat soba noodles and a full pound of tofu. The original recipe calls for blending the sauce ingredients together — although this will provide a creamier base, I really don’t think there’s any need to do this — some cooking over medium-low heat will provide enough push for the sauce ingredients to meld together.

Before cubing the tofu I let it sit, pressed between two heavy skillets, surrounded by a kitchen towel. This presses out the excess liquid, giving you a firmer tofu to work with. Enjoy!

Peanut Sesame Noodles
Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen’s Peanut Sesame Noodles, via Gourmet

Serves 4 as a main

Ingredients

Peanut sauce

  • 8 oz buckwheat soba noodles
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 medium garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Asian toasted sesame oil (I prefer Kadoya brand)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes or a splash of the hot sauce or chili paste of your choice

Noodles and other things

  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1/2 a cucumber, sliced into quarters
  • 1 package firm tofu, cubed

Directions

  • Cook soba noodles according to package directions.
  • While noodles are cooking, warm peanut sauce ingredients together over medium-low heat, adjusting seasonings to taste. For instance, I used all natural peanut butter, which didn’t have added sugar — so I added an additional tablespoon of honey.
  • Toss noodles, vegetables and tofu into warm sauce. Serve!
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