Cold Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce is fresh and tasty for late summer and early fall…cool enough to beat the heat, with a zesty kick to get your blood moving!
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You know those summer days that start blurring into fall? Still warm, but with a hint of crispness?
Well, here in Houston, we don’t have those, BUT somewhere else in the country you do! And this cold noodle salad with spicy peanut sauce is perfect for those days.
The cold noodles are refreshing while sitting in the warm sunlight. And then when you get just a touch of cool breeze, the zesty sauce will get your blood flowing. Not to mention, this is a quick and easy meal for school nights and weekends packed with activities. Savory and fresh, it’s delicious eaten immediately and just as good as leftovers.
To digress a little bit, I also reminded myself of an important truth while cooking up this meal. A lesson, if you will, perfect for back-to-school season.
You should never take cooking too seriously.
Is that a weird lesson for a food blogger to share? Shouldn’t I be convincing you that cooking fancy dishes perfectly – and with the right garnish placed just-so with tweezers – is essential to your personhood and worth as a human being? Well, that may be what Pinterest tries to tell you, but I whole-heartedly disagree. Cooking is about experimentation, relaxation, and fun.
I forgot that lesson briefly while shopping for ingredients for this cold noodle salad with spicy peanut sauce. Why? Well, all the recipes on Pinterest for cold noodle salad use soba noodles or udon noodles, and that’s about it. So those were the choices I had on my list when I trotted off to the grocery store. But when I stood in the noodle aisle, surveying the vast square-footage of shelves, I realized….those two options were nowhere to be found. Not with the spaghetti, not with the ramen, not even in the gluten-free zone. No soba! No udon! Horrors! My top choices seemed to be either linguine or rice sticks. But…but…THAT’S NOT WHAT PINTEREST PERMITS! Now, I have cooked with rice sticks plenty of times, but never in a cold noodle salad. So I doubted myself. And I spent waaaay more time in that noodle aisle than I had budgeted, trying to figure out what to do. Do I try another grocery store? Do I substitute? I hemmed and hawed for a truly silly amount of time.
And then I bought rice sticks and you know what? They were terrific in this salad. And I bet spaghetti and linguine and heck, macaroni, would have been just fine as well. Because you know what? It’s just noodles. Normally I don’t mind making substitution and trying new ingredients, but for some reason that day making cold noodle salad, I got a leeetle too caught up in the details. And only later did I remember there’s really no point to clutching your head (or noodle, if you will) in the noodle aisle. Grab a package and move on, folks! It ain’t that crucial. I give you full permission to politely thumb your nose at Pinterest and do your own thing.
Now with that encouragement in mind, you should use whatever noodles you like in this salad! The sauce also calls for a few ingredients that might not be pantry staples, like fish sauce and sesame oil…so I suggest some substitutions in the recipe to avoid any meltdowns at the grocery store. The recipe also calls for a number of veggies, but these are really just guidelines. Feel free to use all, some, or none, and to use your favorite vegetables instead.
Isn’t cooking easy?
Now enjoy this lovely summer/fall weather with that crucial lesson and a big bowl of cold noodle salad with spicy peanut sauce, made whatever way you want!
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil (can substitute olive oil)
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 2 teaspoons chopped ginger
- 1 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
- 2 oz. (4 tablespoons) lime juice
- 4 teaspoons fish sauce (can substitute soy sauce)
- 1½ tablespoons chili paste
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 5 oz. (10 tablespoons) hot black tea
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- ⅓ cup roughly chopped cilantro
- 2 chicken breasts (to save time, you can use rotisserie chicken)
- 1 lb. noodles of your choice
- 3 cups veggies of your choice. I used a mix of radishes, sugar peas, and carrots.
- Cilantro and lime wedges, for garnish
- Heat sesame oil in a small pan over medium heat. When hot, add garlic, shallots, and ginger. Cook for about 30 seconds to a minute, just until garlic begins to brown.
- Add garlic, shallots, ginger, and remaining sauce ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Place chicken breasts in small saucepan. Cover with water. Cook on high heat, covered, until water comes to a boil. Turn off heat and let chicken sit in the pot, covered, for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, remove the chicken breast and set aside to cool slightly. When it's cool enough to handle, shred the chicken.
- While the chicken cooks, cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse in cool water, and place in a large bowl.
- Add about a cup of peanut sauce to the noodles, as well as the shredded chicken. Toss to combine.
- Serve topped with extra sauce and veggies. Garnish with cilantro and a few squeezes of lime.