Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Low Risk, High Reward

Since we've been on a theme of birthdays lately, I thought I would post a favorite recipe of one of my college gal pal's husbands, who turned the big 3-0 the week between Christmas and New Years.

"Gary" (as we've been affectionately calling him by his middle name) is what one might call a simple man. He's a guy's guy. He's low on drama and doesn't go into a lot of detail to explain a situation. Even though I spent four years in college with him (most of which I always knew he would marry his wife, even if it took them three years to get there), it wasn't recently that I really got to understand Gary and his philosophy on life.

Over the past few years, Gary and I...oh, and his wife, have spent a lot of time together, mostly traveling to friends various wedding events (and even their own!). We've caught early morning flights by the skin of our teeth, shared hotel rooms and fought over whether or not the TV stays on while we sleep, sat on church pews and listened to wedding vows, and panicked over whether or not one of us caught the last trolley back to a reception (okay, mostly I did the panicking). To be honest, I was kind of upset when they didn't invite me to join them on their honeymoon- I thought we were a team!

This fall, a last minute decision was made to take a trip to DC for our university's homecoming events. Gary decided he didn't want to come with us.

"I'd like to explain why I'm not going to homecoming", Gary said to his wife

"Um, okay, but you know you don't have to."

"I know, but I want to. Going to homecoming is 'high risk, low reward.'"

It was a simple answer, and a true one. Gary's risk/reward scale has now become the standard by which we measure all potential situations in our circle of friends. Even The Mother has started using it in her everyday life to make decisions.

When Gary's wife informed me that she was throwing him a little 30th birthday shindig during the week between Christmas and New Years, I was torn. I love a good birthday. And I love Gary. But as you've read from my posts, my holiday week was jam packed and I had already made plans to head up to the ski house on the night of his birthday. But as the day progressed, and I still wasn't packed to leave, I had to assess the situation. Going to the ski house that late in the day was "high risk, low reward", and I immediately knew what I had to do. I joined Gary and his wife for a few celebratory beers at what turned out to be a very "low risk, high reward" evening.

Because of my last-minute decision to go to the party, I arrived empty handed. Gary has been asking for these noodles ever since they debuted at one of our holiday parties, so here you go! I hope you'll find this recipe "low risk, high, reward".

Toss one package of cooked spaghetti with 1 teaspoon sesame oil and set aside.

Cook garlic and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes in 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat until golden brown.
Reduce heat and stir in peanut butter, brown sugar, cider vinegar, soy sauce, Sriracha, and sesame oil. Mixture will become dark and thickened.
Add 1/4 cup boiling water (I used pasta cooking liquid) and stir to thin out.
Remove from heat and season with salt and juice from one lime.

BTW the nail polish color I'm wearing is "berry hard" by Essie. As in "This dish is not 'berry hard' to make".

Pour peanut butter mixture over noodles and toss to combine. Transfer to refrigerator and chill for 2 hours.
Garnish with peanuts, scallions and chiles

I like to serve these for parties in small take-out containers. That way you don't have to sit down and eat, which Gary, by the way, hates to do. 

A bowl would also work. 

Cold Asian Noodles
Serves 4 to 6 as a Main Course or 12 as a Hors d'Oeuvres

Coarse salt
1 (13.25-ounce) package spaghetti, preferably whole wheat
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
1/4 cup boiling water
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dry roasted peanuts, for garnish
1/2 bunch scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced on the bias, for garnish
2 to 3 chile peppers, such as Thai birds eye or jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Generously salt water and return to a boil. Add pasta, and cook, according to package directions, until al dente. Drain and rinse pasta with cold running water. Transfer pasta to a large bowl and toss with 2 teaspoons sesame oil; set aside. 

2. Heat vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add crushed red pepper flakes and garlic; cook, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in peanut butter and sugar; cook until peanut butter is smooth and sugar is dissolved, about 1 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in cider vinegar, soy sauce, Sriracha, and remaining tablespoon sesame oil. 

3. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in boiling water to thin out. Squeeze lime juice over peanut butter mixture and season with salt and pepper. Transfer peanut butter mixture to bowl with noodles and toss to combine. Transfer to refrigerator until chilled, about 2 hours. Serve cold garnished with peanuts, scallions, and chiles. 

To make ahead: Toss pasta with an addition teaspoon of sesame oil and transfer to a large resealable plastic bag. Let peanut butter mixture cool completely and transfer to an airtight container. Keep pasta and peanut butter mixture refrigerated until ready to serve, up to 3 days. To serve, transfer pasta to a large bowl and fluff using your hands. Stir a little hot water into peanut butter mixture to loosen. Toss peanut butter mixture with pasta; garnish and serve.


  1. Thanks, I've been jonesing for these but can't bring myself to get them from local Chinese Take-Out - too much grease!

  2. That looks and sounds amazing!

  3. just discovered your blog! that recipe sounds delishh!!!