Asian-style Peanut Pasta

Sometimes when John goes away I feel the need to make all kinds of stuff in the kitchen (hence, brunch). Last summer I made this recipe, and knew that I would want to make it again when he was gone. It's not that John doesn't like peanut sauce, it's that it doesn't exactly flow through his veins, like it does mine.

This recipe is like the ultimate comfort food for me - warm noodles, slathered in peanut butter and sesame oil. John took the car with him out of town, and I forgot to buy pasta before he left. I can walk to a grocery store, if I really wanted to, but since I was slightly pressed for time and it was about to storm, I made a bold move and decided to make the pasta myself. This was the kind of stubborn decision that often backfires in a big way, but the pasta goddess smiled on me and they turned out really well!

Since my hands were covered in flour during the most exciting moments, I don't have a photo for you. I was a little nervous about making it, but I had two other experiences (see here, and here) under my belt, and I used my other source of Mark Bittman's knowledge to make an egg-less pasta. Just eaten plain with oil and herbs, this might not be the most interesting pasta (though as I type, that sounds really good). Covered in a really flavorful sauce, they were perfect.

I also fried some tofu to add to this, since he suggests whatever leftover source of protein you happen to have around. I just threw it in and stirred everything together at the end. Also, I wouldn't put the flavors of sesame, peanut, cucumber, and green onion together, but somehow they really taste great in this recipe. I should add, too, that he calls for this recipe to be eaten cold. I inevitably heat it up and I think it's better that way. But it's also good cold, and it's nice to have the option.

"Cold" (or hot) Asian-style Peanut Pasta
adapted from Marc Bittman

  • Salt
  • 1 to 2 cups shredded cooked chicken or about 8 ounces boneless chicken breast (I used tofu)
  • 1 pound cucumber
  • 12 ounces long pasta like linguine, or fresh Chinese egg noodles
  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup sesame paste (tahini) or peanut butter*
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger, optional
  • 1 tablespoon rice or wine vinegar
  • Hot sesame oil or Tabasco sauce to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more
  • At least 1/2 cup minced scallions for garnish
1. Set a large pot of water to boil and salt it. If your chicken is uncooked, poach it in water as it comes to a boil; it will cook in about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, peel cucumbers, cut them in half, and, using a spoon, scoop out seeds. Cut cucumber into shreds and set aside.

2. When water comes to a boil, cook pasta until tender but not mushy. (If chicken is not done, you can still add pasta; remove chicken when it is done.) While pasta is cooking, whisk together sesame oil and paste, sugar, soy, ginger, vinegar, hot oil and pepper in a large bowl. Thin sauce with hot water, so that it is about the consistency of heavy cream; you will need 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Stir in cucumber. When pasta is done, drain it and run pasta (and chicken, if necessary) under cold water. Drain. Shred chicken (the easiest way to do this is with your fingers).

3. Toss noodles and chicken with sauce and cucumbers. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary (the dish may need salt), then garnish and serve.

*For these to really be "sesame" noodles, then yes, use tahini. I opted to use chunky peanut butter because peanuts are good in pasta anyways, and because I'm obsessed with it. Creamy peanut butter would also be good.


  1. John doesn't like peanut sauce?

    Abby, are you sure about this guy?

  2. To be fair, he still *likes* it. It's just that for me, peanut butter is like oxygen. I eat it pretty much every day. And now that I'm running a whole lot, I'd say one of the BEST benefits is that I can eat more peanut butter on a regular basis.

    So he likes it, but he's not as married to it as I am...It is our biggest food-difference, though!