This is a really easy Asian-style (by no means “authentic”) noodle dish, that is quick to prepare, can be served vegetarian or omnivorous and can be served hot as a main meal or cold as a packed lunch. And it is fantastic. This serves two.
Dry fry a small handful of cashews to get a bit of colour on them – take care as they easily burn. Chop up a little cooked chicken or pork, if preferred.
Pumpkin seed butter (available from health food shops), or smooth peanut butter, two tablespoons.
Juice of two limes.
Hot chillis, two or three.
Sesame oil, one teaspoon.
Soy sauce, two teaspoons.
Coriander leaf, small bunch, chopped
One large or two small cloves of garlic, finely chopped, grated or crushed.
One large or two small spring onions, roughly chopped.
Handful of sezchuan peppers, roasted and ground (optional but very good)
If the pumpkin seed butter is used, the sauce will keep an attractive, rich, deep green, colour – peanut butter and it’ll be a muddy brown, but still taste great. The sauce will probably be a bit too thick, in which case add a little water – or chicken stock if it’s handy.
With all of these ingredients, experiment with proportions and taste the finished sauce to check it’s right for your own preference. If it’s too sour, add a pinch of brown sugar. As it’s going to be added to the noodles, it should taste a bit too salty and spicy on its own, particularly if it’s going to be served cold. Add more soy and chilli if necessary.
Take one small bundle of dried soba noodles (for preference, other Asian noodles would do) and add to boiling water and cook according to the instructions – usually only a few minutes.
If serving as a hot meal, simply drain the noodles and mix with the sauce, cashews and chicken (if using) and serve immediately.
To serve as a packed lunch, as I do frequently, drain the cooked noodles and rinse them in a colander or sieve under cold water for twenty seconds or so. This gets rid of excess starch so they won’t glue together in a block. Put the drained noodles in a small serving tub, cover with the sauce and top with cashews and, if using, meat. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Mix the noodles into the sauce just before serving cold.