Was doing the usual, “What should we have for dinner routine (I don’t know, what do you want to have)?” as I was perusing the contents of the refrigerator. Spotted some peanut butter and tahini, which sparked an idea for a spicy peanut dressing.
I remembered a recipe for Shiitake Peanut Noodles that I had prepared a while back from Tom Douglas’ Big Dinners. However, I modified the recipe, as I thought his version was too sweet and did not have enough heat for my taste. I added much less honey and added more red pepper flakes, along with a Thai chile to kick it up a notch. I also substituted Madeira for sherry (since I already had some at home). Madeira is a fortified Portuguese wine, whereas sherry is a fortified Spanish wine [in case you were wondering]; either are acceptable substitutes.
Toss the peanut dressing with buckwheat soba noodles or your favorite variety of wheat noodle. Top with some roasted shiitake mushrooms and an assortment of garnishes — roasted peanuts, cilantro, scallions, bean sprouts — and serve hot, warm, or chilled.
Tonight’s dinner dilemma solved. Time to start thinking about tomorrow’s…
Buckwheat with Shiitakes and Spicy Peanut Dressing
For the Spicy Peanut Dressing
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup tahini
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons dry Madiera or Sherry
3/4 to 1 tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 Thai chile, finely diced (and/or red pepper flakes to taste)
Combine the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined.
For the Noodles
3/4 pound buckwheat noodles (or wheat noodles)
1 pound shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup bean sprouts
3 scallions, sliced thinly
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped, for garnish
Dry roasted peanuts, roughly chopped, for garnish
Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the buckwheat noodles, cook 2 minutes until just tender. Drain the noodles and plunge into ice-cold water to stop the cooking process (this prevents buckwheat noodles from getting gummy). Drain.
You can sauté or roast the shiitakes.
To sauté the mushrooms: Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the shiitake mushrooms (do not crowd the pan). Season with sea salt (or soy sauce) and freshly ground black pepper. Cook stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crispy on the edges.
To roast the mushrooms: Preheat the oven to 450°F. Toss the mushrooms with olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast until golden brown and crispy on the edges.
I prefer to keep the ingredients separate until ready to be served, so that the noodles don’t get soggy.
When you are ready to serve, place the noodles in a large bowl and toss with the peanut-tahini dressing. Place noodles in a large serving bowl or platter, top with bean sprouts, roasted shiitakes, scallions. Garnish with cilantro and roasted peanuts/toasted sesame seeds.