For great hot weather eating use your (cold) noodle

Jun 13, 2012

If you've never had them the idea of cold noodles might not sound too appetizing.  But just take a look at that recipe up there. Why do you think it's so ragged and stained? From multiple uses, that's how. 

I've had it memorized for years but I thought it would be fun to break it out once more so you could see. Click through all the photos and then keep reading – because I've got some good tips for you on how to make it.

The Noodles

I really think this is best made with Asian style noodles and the photo up there is of my preferred kind but don't get all obsessive if you can't find them. Boil them to a pretty chewy al dente. They'll soften up a little more on their own while you make the rest of the stuff. Which brings us to...

The Peanut Sauce

Okay, you've got the recipe up there in the photos. Just follow it. It's easy.  

If you don't have red rice vinegar or red wine vinegar, use what you have.  It's not that big a deal. My only caveat would be that if you use balsamic vinegar you should probably cut back or eliminate the sugar in the recipe. As always, taste and adjust to your preference.

This mixture may seem a little thin at first but resist the impulse to add more peanut butter. Let it sit for a half hour and it'll thicken up some. That interval will also give the flavors time to mix. Trust me, it does make a difference. On to ...

The Chicken

Any kind is fine. Leftovers from a roast chicken, or poached or pan-fried chicken breasts, thighs, whatever you've got. You could just cut the pieces up but I think it's better when shredded. Here's how I do it:

Pound the cooked chicken between two pieces of plastic. Rather than plastic wrap I keep a couple of 8" square pieces of old Ziplocs. They're tough, washable and re-useable and  eliminate the problem of cross-contamination every time you reach for the plastic-wrap carton with your chicken-y fingers.

Once you've got the chicken pounded down a little it's easy to tear it into strips by hand. What else might we want to serve  on the side with all this?

The Garnishes

You can see some of the stuff I like in the photos up top. Bean sprouts, slivered green onions, those olive-drab things are sliced Szechuan preserved vegetable – kind of hot and salty. There's also Thai basil, cucumbers and lime wedges for squeezing, and a little dish of hot oil I mixed with some Guilin chili sauce. Anything else comes to mind - go for it.

Try this dish on a hot day with a cold beer.  You'll thank me.

"If you can't control your peanut butter you can't control your life."

– Bill Watterson