April 09, 2011

Honey-Peanut Chicken & Curried Peanut Noodles

I recently made a meal inspired by two Thai-inspired recipes published at one of our favorite blogs, One Favorite Bite.  The recipes in question were Thai-Style Honey Peanut Chicken and Noodles with Curried Peanut Sauce.  Mary and we like a lot of the same sorts of dishes, and based on her excellent track record and on the results I got with my variation of her recipes, I'm sure you'll be pleased with the results if you were to cook up those two recipes as written.   As usual, though, I modified some things, not because I thought the changes would make for a recipe better than hers, but simply to make something a bit more customized to our tastes.  Mostly these consisted of adding some ingredients (fish sauce and Thai basil) to give the dishes more of a distinctly Thai flavor, but I also substituted and changed the amounts of some ingredients.

Both dishes came together quickly and with only minimal fuss.  The Honey-Peanut Chicken is wonderfully flavorful.  Bits of chicken are cooked in a rich, smooth, spicy-sweet sauce made from peanut butter, honey, hot curry powder and sriracha (a Thai hot chili sauce), and peanuts are sprinkled on the finished dish.   

The Curried Peanut Noodles are less spicy than the chicken, but no less flavorful.  Chinese egg noodles are mixed into a delicious sauce made from Thai curry paste, more peanut butter, coconut milk and lime juice.  Some of the flavors are fairly subtle compared to the dominant peanut flavor, but they all add up to a wonderful Thai-spiced side dish.  Mary's recipe calls for flat Chinese egg noodles, but since I didn't have any of those around, I used the lo mein-style noodles I had around.  They worked fine.

Each of these dishes was great on its own terms, and I'll probably make both again some time, but I don't think I'll make them together.  With both dishes having strong peanut flavors, I found the similarity kept each from standing out from the other.  That much peanut flavor isn't a bad thing, mind you, and the dinner was quite good, but I think the noodles would probably go better with a meat or vegetable dish that wasn't based around peanuts, while the bold flavors of the Honey-Peanut Chicken would stand out more if served with plain Jasmine rice, or perhaps coconut rice. 

Honey-Peanut Chicken

yield = 4-5 servings

1/2            cup soy sauce
1/4            cup honey
3               tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2               tablespoons lime juice
1               tablespoon fish sauce
2               teaspoons minced garlic
2               teaspoon Madras (or other hot) curry powder
2               teaspoons sriracha (or other Asian-style hot chili sauce)
2               pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (or a mix),
                 cut into bite-size pieces
2               tablespoons Thai basil, chopped
1/2            cup roasted, unsalted peanuts

Add soy sauce, honey, peanut butter, lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, curry powder and sriracha to a large skillet.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often until the mixture is smooth. 

Add the chicken to the skillet, turning it to coat on all sides with the sauce.   Simmer, stirring often, until the chicken is done (4-5 minutes).  Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with Thai basil and peanuts, and serve.

Curried Peanut Noodles

yield = 4-5 servings

1            teaspoon table salt
1            pound dried Chinese egg noodles
3/4         cup coconut milk
1/2         cup crunchy peanut butter
3            tablespoons soy sauce
2            tablespoons fish sauce
1            tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
3            teaspoons ground coriander
3            teaspoons Thai red curry paste
2            teaspoons granulated sugar
              cilantro leaves for garnish

Add 4 quarts of water and 1 teaspoon salt to a large pot and bring to a boil.  When the water is boiling, prepare the noodles per package directions. 

While the noodles are cooking, combine the coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, coriander, curry paste and sugar to small saucepan.  Cook on medium-low heat, stirring almost constantly, until the peanut butter melts and a sauce forms (approximately 3 minutes).

Drain the pasta in a colander, then return it to the pot.  Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss to combine.   Transfer to a serving bowl or platter, garnish with cilantro leaves and serve.

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