We’ve been decorating a lot recently. Despite moving into the house we now live in in October last year, and endless trips to Homebase, we are still sanding, still painting, and still making trips to the timber yard at 6:30 am. I am not a gracious decorator. I have little to no idea what I’m doing, so await instruction, and then moan about whatever task I’ve been given. The prospect of cooking at the end of these long, sweaty, dusty days is not one I want to entertain.
And when I feel like that, I make these: speedy, spicy, peanut butter noodles.
Everyone needs a dish like this up their sleeve: something that is so simple, you don’t even need to grapple with the thought of cooking, because before you’ve got that far, it’s already ready.
I’m embarrassed to suggest that this is in any way a recipe, rather than an assembly of store cupboard ingredients. It is also unfair to give the impression that I do this the same way every time. In fact, I don’t think any incarnation has been a facsimile of a previous dish, but the consistencies are (a) the template from which I build (although often I do not), and (b) how quick and satisfying this dish is.
Here I’ve thrown in a red pepper and some spring onions that were beginning to look ropey. Sometimes at the last minute I add a beaten egg and stir it through the noodles until just gently scrambled, and pretend that I’ve actually knocked up a pad thai. But most of the time, I don’t. Most of the times that I need this dish, the idea of doing anything more than throwing the absolute bare essentials in a small pan is beyond me.
The reality is that if I made these noodles as I make for myself, vegetable-obsessed Sam would have a coronary, but I reproduce it below as I eat it most often: unadorned, and as a generous portion for one. Feel free to scale up and add as much or as little fridge-weary veg as your decorating-weary heart desires.
It goes like this:
Speedy Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles
Makes: 1 comfortingly generous portion
Takes: Ten minutes maximum
Bakes: No time at all
A portion of egg or rice noodles of your choosing
1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon runny honey
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
A splash of boiling water
1. Prepare your noodles in a medium sized pan. I use the ones that are soaked for ten minutes in boiling water and then rinsed, but it’s entirely up to you. If you’re using any veg, chop it and soften it in a little oil for a few minutes over a medium low heat now.
2. Just before the noodles are ready, spoon all sauce ingredients into a small pan and heat and stir gently until they come together in a sauce.
3. Drain the noodles, return them to the bigger pan, pour the sauce over, and swish to cover. If you’re adding a beaten egg, now’s the time. Pour it in, and move it around constantly until it is just scrambled and set.
4. Ta Dah!
Icing on the Cake
If I’m feeling fancy, I serve this with a wedge of lime and a sprinkling of spring onions. Often, my fork is already lifting noodles before I’ve even go that far.