When the beast was a wee little one growing up in suburbs of New Jersey, there was a Cooking Studio at the local supermarket where kids could learn how to cook, and parents could drop them off there for hours at a time and earn some respite.
One summer the Cooking Studio entailed a whole week’s worth of classes. Day Three, “Asian Celebration,” involved making some amazing Szechuan noodles that were so delicious, I have kept the recipe, stained in oil with smears of peanut butter and tahini, for the past 12 years or so. Having not been in possession of a food processor in London, I thought it was high time to write this one up now that I have access to some very handy kitchen gadgets.
There are a lot of ingredients required for this one but the recipe itself is not daunting — it’s easy to make, feeds loads of people and is cooler than making pasta with tomato sauce all the time. The recipe for sugar snap peas with sesame, which I have included as a complementary side dish, is super easy to make and requires only three ingredients.
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup good soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
4 scallions, sliced diagonally (white and green parts)
Place the garlic and ginger in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the vegetable oil, tahini, peanut butter, soy sauce, sherry, sherry vinegar, honey, chili oil, sesame oil, and ground peppers. Puree the sauce.
Add a splash of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook the spaghetti al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander, place it in a large bowl, and while still warm, toss with 3/4 of the sauce. Add the red and yellow bell peppers and scallions; toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature. The remaining sauce may be added, as needed, to moisten the pasta.
Now for the side dish, sugar snap peas with sesame, you will need
1 pound sugar snap peas
sesame oil (to drizzle)
black sesame seeds
Trim ends of sugar snaps.
Put into boiling salted water for 30 seconds and then into ice cold water. Drain and pat dry.
Drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle with black sesame seeds. Serve at room temperature.
Copyright 1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook