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today's special:
cold peanut 
by Yee-Fan Sun

I have this weird food quirk where I'm constantly seeking the perfect balance of sweet and salty in any given meal or snack. So if I eat something super-salty, like a handful of potato chips, then I immediately want to follow it with something sweet to counteract the salt overload, like cookies or chocolate or even just fruit. My boy, who doesn't suffer from any such salty-sweet issues, thinks I'm pretty much nuts. What can I say? I know what my tastebuds crave, and as an unabashed food lover, I eagerly give in to whatever demands my crazy appetite chooses to make.

My favorite thing about this recipe is that it's the perfect mix of sweet, savory, and spicy flavors, all in one tasty, filling dish. The recipe yields just enough sauce to lightly but thoroughly coat the noodles, which is exactly how I like it; if you like your pasta drenched in sauce, make up another half-batch or so of it and add more to suit your taste.

sauce ingredients
cup peanut butter
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
cup water
1 fat clove garlic
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. sesame oil
4 Tbsp. honey
plenty of crushed red pepper to taste (don't go wimpy on this - the salty-sweet sauce really benefits from a big kick of heat)

marinated chicken ingredients
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp wine

other ingredients
1 red bell pepper
2 carrots
3 stalks scallions
handful of roasted peanuts
1 lb. spaghetti, or similar pasta

1 Trim the chicken breast of fat and membrane, then slice it up into thin little strips. Marinate it in the soy sauce, cornstarch and wine for at least twenty minutes. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a wok over high heat; quickly stir-fry the chicken until just cooked-through. Pull out the chicken with a slotted spoon, and set aside.
2 Meanwhile, make the sauce and cook the pasta.
3 For the sauce, dump all the ingredients except for the crushed red pepper into a mini food-processor (a blender would work dandy as well.) Transfer to a mixing bowl and add a good amount of crushed red pepper - it should be fairly spicy. If the sauce seems gloppy and thick, thin with another tablespoon or two of water.
4 Slice the bell pepper into thin strips - I find it easiest to cut it in half lengthwise, core and remove the seeds and ribs, then place the cut-side down on my cutting board and slice cross-wise using a very sharp knife. Cut the carrot into very thin matchsticks, then chop up the scallions (use all but the bottom inch or so.) Crush and chop up the peanuts.
5 When the pasta's cooked properly, drain and rinse under cool water. Transfer to a big mixing bowl. Toss the pasta, sliced veggies, chicken and sauce until well-mixed. Taste, adding more salt and crushed red pepper if needed. Enjoy!

check out these related articles: 
noodling around | hot food, cool cook

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