I don’t typically title my recipes with adjectives like amazing, superb, or outstanding. It seems trite. But in this case, I have good reason. I went to my first Thai restaurant in college. Growing up in Texas, I’d only ever heard of tex-mex. I’m only half kidding. Upon recommendation from a friend, I ordered #45—Amazing Chicken.
She promised me it was good, amazing rather. With no ingredient list, I took her word. I went back to that restaurant at least 100 times over the 4 years. And every time I ordered #45. They weren’t kidding on the amazing part. But my undiscerning palette couldn’t fill in the ingredient blanks. All I knew—it didn’t have avocados or salsa.
Out of pure curiosity, I asked the waiter one day if he knew what was in the amazing sauce. It’s a coconut peanut sauce. I had no idea what that meant at the time, but I locked it away in my memory. When I moved to Chicago, the birthplace of this little space, I discovered coconut milk. (Don’t laugh.) This must be the coconut they were referring to, I thought to myself. After a lot of experimenting, I recreated a similar sauce as seen in the Thai Peanut Bowl.
The sauce has morphed a bit over the years, but only slightly. We use it on spring rolls as well. I’ll post that recipe once the snow clears and the sweaters are packed away. However, this recipe’s not much different. It’s served cold. Probably much better for the warmer months. But it’s easy, fast, and healthy. That’s the name of the game these days.
Even better, you can make it ahead of time, right before serving, or in stages. Whatever your schedule can handle. It’s forgiving like that. It’s great for lunch or dinner. Or better yet, lunch and dinner.
You can serve it warm if you wish. Just steam the veggies first. But I like to serve this more like a salad—slightly chilled with plenty of crunch. With a bit of this coconut peanut sauce, eating veggies never tasted so amazing. And I’m not being trite.
Another 30 minute meal coming at you. This one is super fresh and raw. Almost like a salad but better. The coconut peanut sauce will make you forget you’re eating healthy.
6 oz. soba noodles (or whole wheat spaghetti noodles)
1/2 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced or shaved
1/4 c. frozen peas, thawed
1/4 c. frozen edamame, shelled and thawed
a sprig or two of kale, de-stemmed and chopped
1/2 c. light coconut milk
1/4 c. natural peanut butter
2 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. fresh lime
squirt of agave nectar (optional)
Make soba noodles according to the package instructions. Drain and run under cold water until chilled.
Prep veggies. Run peas and edamame under warm water to thaw.
Make sauce. Combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Stir until well combined.
Make bowl. Layer with noodles and veggies. Top with sauce. Garnish as you wish and serve.
• If you wish to make this ahead of time, and store the sauce separately, add a bit of water to the sauce before serving. It will thicken as it sits in the fridge.
• If you wish to serve this warm, heat the sauce on the stove and add cooked and semi-drained noodles to the pot. Reserve some of the cooking water to help thin the sauce. The noodles will absorb the sauce more when warm. Steam veggies.
• You can easily save individual servings for lunch or/and dinner. Add the sauce to the bottom of your container. Then layer with the remaining ingredients. Add a bit of water before serving and stir to combine.