Monday, June 18, 2012

Peanut Soba Noodles

The beginning of my senior year at UC Berkeley, I "sat in" (audited) on the Vietnamese language class taught by the extremely nice Tay (teacher/professor) Bach. I have sit in on this class several times throughout my 4 years of undergraduate study at Berkeley, but have always faded away as the time went on. As each semester wore on, I would feel too busy with classwork, research, and other various things (cough, laziness) and would stop going to class. Whenever I did go, it was fun and enjoyable. Fun to learn the cute little Vietnamese songs that kids would sing; fun to learn how to write. But because I stopped going, I have lost my ability to write and speak. Nowadays, I speak very basic Vietnamese phrases to my family but it is at a very elementary level. I hope to get better, but it takes a lot of practice and effort to grasp a language once you pass that young critical age.

This post is related to a dish I made for a beginning-of-the-year potluck we had last fall. I knew most people would bring simple and quick food items to the event, as is typical of time-pressed (and maybe a bit lazy) college students. As a personal effort, I usually try to bring something that acts as a main dish and with vegetables. For this potluck, I wanted something fast yet tasty to make. I searched for peanut soba noodle recipes and used one of the many recipes out there to act as the base of my soba dish.

Generally, you mix some peanut butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and either chili garlic sauce or Sriracha (chili garlic sauce is more salty, spicy and garlicky, whereas Sriracha adds a mild and sweet spiciness) to create the sauce base. You boil the soba noodles and then mix it with the sauce. Chop some fresh onions (cilantro would be nice too) and sprinkle them and sesame seeds on top. (To get the basic proportions right, you can try this recipe and adjust as you feel necessary.) A little sesame oil added to the peanut butter mixture is a small addition that enhances the flavor profile.

This is a really quick recipe that has good carbs from the buckwheat noodles, some green from the green onions, and protein from the peanut butter (even better if you get the all natural, no salt, no oil kind). Every one who tasted the noodles at the potluck couldn't help but approach me later and say how good the noodles were. Given, the only comparisons were just chips and dips and some takeout dumplings, but I'll take the praise where I can get it. *wink*

Enjoy and hope you all are enjoying your summer as I am now.