Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cold Noodles with a Peanut Sauce - Cookbook Challenge 3

For me, browsing though a cookbook is sometimes more than an exercise in finding a recipe, it often evokes fond memories of people, time and place.

And so it is with the cookbook I used for this fortnight's challenge,
World of the East Vegetarian Cooking (1981). I bought this book second-hand at a sidewalk stall late one autumn afternoon when I lived in Brooklyn, along with a Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway album. Every time I look at this book it takes me back to my mid-20s, when life was a little bit more carefree and I was living a strange adventure in New York City.

It really is a lovely cookbook, published before the advent of
food-porn and hand-illustrated. Each time I look at it I realise I simply don't use it enough. It features an extensive collection of Asian recipes that are very easy to make and particularly good for busy people. So I was glad of the opportunity to use it for this fortnight's cookbook challenge - rice/noodles.

These noodles are a great summer dish, which you can prepare ahead and eat sometime later when it is just too hot to be in the kitchen, and the peanut sauce is delicious. I really recommend that you give this recipe a try.

Recipe: Cold noodles with a peanut sauce
Cookbook: World of the East Vegetarian Cooking (1981)
Author: Madhur Jaffrey

500g thin Chinese egg noodles (I actually used soba)
2 tbls sesame oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tbls shelled, salted roasted peanuts (I used unsalted roasted peanuts - it tasted fine)
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tbls peanut oil
1 tbls thin soy sauce
2 tsp Chinese black vinegar
1 tsp sugar
Pinch of cayenne pepper
A couple of thinly sliced spring onions

Prepare noodles according to the packet directions. Drain and run cold water over them to rinse and cool, them let them drain for about 5 minutes.

Put the noodles in a serving bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and toss. You can cover and refrigerate the noodles at this stage for a couple of hours.

Combine the 1/4 cup of peanuts, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, garlic, peanut oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, cayenne, and 1/4 cup of water in a food processor or blender. Blend until you have a smooth sauce.

Crush the remaining 1 tablespoon of peanuts to a coarse crumb texture in a spice grinder, mortar, or food processor.

When you are ready to eat, pour the sauce over the noodles and toss. Garnish by putting the spring onion over the noodles and top with the crushed peanuts.

Serves 4.

You can find out what everyone is up to this fortnight


  1. I love hearing about your memories of buying the cookbook - I feel the same about some of my older cookbooks. I also made a soba noodle salad but am interested your book suggested chinese noodles as I don't think i have made salad with them

  2. Thanks Johanna.

    I haven't made a cold salad with Chinese noodles either. I guess here in Australian we've really only been exposed to cold Japanese noodle salads. The book has several noodle salad recipes and often her first choice is Chinese egg noodles, specifically those used to make lo mein. I think these are a thin, yellow noodle. I substituted soba because I'm not meant to eat wheat.

  3. How wonderful! I'm a die-hard nut lover so this recipe is right up my alley. I love that you blended your peanuts from scratch rather than relying on peanut butter!

  4. I love how you substitute soba noodles with chinese egg noodles ! By the way, did you manage to find the 100% soba noodles?

  5. @Kayla, yes, I did! Thank you so much for the info, the photo was especially helpful. I printed it out, trotted down to Great Eastern and found them.

  6. Delicious - I love soba noodles and peanuts so this recipe is perfect in my book.

  7. oooh! this looks great. great combo

  8. This looks delicious. I love Madhur she really is amazing. Lovely story about how you came across the book.

  9. I am housesitting and wanted to make this recipe, but didn't have my well-worn World of the East cookbook with me, so thanks for posting it here. I use fresh Chinese-style egg noodles (Nasoya), but the soba substitution sounds great. I once went to the trouble of hunting down the black vinegar, but decided it wasn't worth the trouble. I use rice wine vinegar. I never could figure out what thin soy sauce is--I just use low-sodium. And I use a natural peanut butter with no additives. I love this recipe and all Madhur Jaffrey's books.