On Wednesdays, I usually work from home, which is nice because, among other little advantages, I can have a home cooked lunch. Nothing fancy, but something quick and yet satisfying. So yesterday, when my stomach started to rumble, reminding me it was midday already, I thought it would be nice to eat something out of a bowl with a spoon. That may sound silly, but sometimes it’s thoughts or cravings like that that guide my cooking and eating. Usually, the combination of bowl, spoon and something satisfying makes me think about risotto or absorption pasta (pasta cooked risotto style by absorbing liquid). And usually, when I’m cooking only for myself, I like to make things that C doesn’t like so much. One of the things he hates and I loooove is peanut butter.
That’s basically how this recipe came to be as I was pretty sure that combining absorption pasta and peanut butter would not only be possible but probably end up being one of my favorite noodle bowls ever. And I can tell you, it was yummy! The creaminess of the peanut butter sauce, the light crunch of al dente pasta and the delicate Thai flavors of ginger and lemon grass. The only problem with my bowl was, it was empty way too fast!
Ingredients (for one person):
80g of small sized pasta
500ml chicken stock
2 teaspoons peanut oil
fresh ginger (I cut a piece of about 2cm)
1 lemongrass stick
1 leek (zucchini or eggplant would work as well)
2 tablespoons good quality chunky Peanut butter (I used Stonewall kitchen Chunky Peanut butter, my absolute favorite)
1 tablespoon mild soy sauce
a few cilantro leaves
First of all, peel the ginger and cut into thin slices. Discard the hard, outer layers of the lemongrass and cut the stick into small rings.
Pour the peanut oil into a small skillet and put on medium heat. Add the ginger and lemon grass to the skillet and let sizzle for 2 minutes. Add your chicken stock, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, allowing the stock to adopt the flavors of ginger and lemongrass.
In the meantime, cut the leek into thin rings.
Prepare another skillet or pot, add the remaining peanut oil and put on medium heat. Once the oil is starting to heat, add the noodles and mix well with a wooden spoon in order to cover all the pasta with oil. In the meantime, your stock should be ready. You can either discard the ginger slices or you can mix the stock with a hand blender (I used this method as I think it adds additional flavor to the stock).
Reserve 3-4 tablespoons of the stock for the peanut butter sauce. You will use the rest to cook the pasta.
Now start cooking your pasta by progressively adding the stock to the pasta in your skillet, spoon by spoon. Make sure to regularly stir your pasta and add more stock as soon the noodle absorbs the liquid. When more or less half of your stock is used, add the leek to the skillet and continue stirring and adding liquid. When the pasta is cooked and has a creamy texture, lower the heat and let it rest.
Prepare your sauce by heating the peanut butter in a pan or skillet on medium heat, stirring constantly. Add the soy sauce and incorporate it into the peanut butter. Then progressively stir in the stock that you set aside before, thinning your sauce as much as you like. You could also add a little bit of coconut milk, but I didn’t do that this time. When your sauce has the right texture (not thin, still creamy, a bit like melted chocolate), you can pour it over the pasta and mix well to coat all the noodle with it.
Serve in a bowl topped with some fresh cilantro.