Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spicy Thai noodles with shrimp and asparagus

This Spicy Thai noodle salad won rave reviews from friends. Make it ahead
of time and chill so the noodles soak up the sauce. I added bell peppers for
color and left out the shrimp.
Search "Spicy Thai noodles" on Pinterest and you'll see a thousand copies of the same basic recipe: A boat load of fat, sugar and sodium--excuse me, I mean oil, honey, and soy sauce--tossed with linguine and Pad Thai accoutrement. Now don't get me wrong, the recipe looks delish but far beyond my renewed-every-Monday health commitments.

My version, cobbled from comments and reviews, includes some health modifications along with protein and veggies. And might I say, it is fantastic! (Indeed, Mr. T raved without being prompted.)

Although I served the dish hot for dinner, this recipe would work great as a cold pasta salad. Leave out the shrimp to make it vegetarian or sub out the asparagus for your favorite veggies. I will definitely be making this again soon!

N.S.F.D. Ranking: **
Time: 30 minutes-ish
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
14 oz linguine, angel hair or cappelini pasta
1/3 cup sesame oil
1-2 Tb crushed red peppers
4 Tb honey
3 Tb low sodium soy sauce
3 Tb low sodium ponzu* sauce (just use all soy if you don't have this)
1/2 cup unseasoned** rice vinegar
1 Tb peanut butter
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and chopped into 2-inch pieces
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
Raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (6-8 shrimp per person, depending on size)
1 lime
Salt, cayenne, black pepper
3 shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/3 cup peanuts, chopped

Although I enjoy the dish hot for dinner, it's even better cold after the sauce has time to sink in.
Directions
1. Prepare pasta al dente, draining when the pasta still has a good bite to it (If you're making a cold salad, rinse with cold water.)
2. In a small sauce pan, warm up the oil and red pepper flakes over low-medium heat for a few minutes. Be careful not to let the pepper flakes burn (like I did the first time)
3. Strain and toss the red pepper flakes, reserving the oil
4. In the same sauce pan, add the honey, soy sauce, ponzu, vinegar and peanut butter. Whisk until combined.
5. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, saute the asparagus in a bit of oil until warm and not quite done. Toss in the garlic and turn over a few times WITHOUT browning the garlic. Remove asparagus to another bowl.
6. Squeeze half a lime over the shrimp. Dust with salt, cayenne or black pepper. In the same frying pan over medium-high heat, saute the shrimp for 30 seconds per side. Remove to a plate.
7. Add the noodles and sauce to the frying pan, toss and simmer for a minute.
8. Add the asparagus. Toss and heat until warm.
9. Add the shrimp. Remove from heat.
10. Top with carrots, cilantro and peanuts.

Notes:
  • Given how fast shrimp cooks, you could likely toss it in after the asparagus is done and skip a couple steps.
  • Two tablespoons red pepper flakes means this dish is SPICY. One tablespoon would probably be good for most palates and maybe less for kidlets.
  •  Do not, not, not overcook the noodles! If serving hot, consider draining noodles when they're more under-cooked than al dente as they'll continue cooking when you mix them with the sauce.
xoxo,
shawna

* Ponzu is a citrusy sauce common in Japanese cuisine. If you don't have it, just use more soy sauce.
** Unseasoned rice vinegar has no sodium or sugar 

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