Once I became more familiar with Asian cuisines and flavors, noodle dishes of all kinds became an instant favorite. Not only because I like to eat them, but they are super simple to throw together.
Especially in summer when it’s so hot out that you can barely work up the energy to cook. And as much as I don’t want it to be hot anymore, it will continue here for a while. So I have to embrace it with more interesting no-or-minimal-cook meals.
This easy Asian noodle salad is one of those meals. Well, I say meal, but really, I think it makes a super fun appetizer, too. A twist on a salad that you can share with friends.
A few months ago, I discovered a new-to-me grocery store nearby and I was thrilled to find that they had loads of ingredients specific to Asian cuisine. The best find was pre-cooked rice noodles. I know it doesn’t take much to cook rice noodles, but I still feel like I struggle with what should be a straight forward skill.
Either I cook them too long, don’t let them sit in the hot water long enough, or when I toss them in a skillet, they become more gummy than tender. At the market, they have the same style of noodles I usually buy dried in the fridge case already cooked. I find if I use my electric tea kettle to heat a little water and pour it over the top, let sit several seconds, then drain, they are warmed and the perfect tenderness. Plus, no turning on the stove at all.
Since this is a chilled noodle salad, I rinse them will cold water after the warm up and they turn out great every time.
This salad uses a mix of simple veggies and crunchy peanuts. I toasted the peanuts with some oil and Korean chili powder, gochugaru. I’ve kept it in my pantry ever since I started making kimchi. The bag is so big I find I have plenty to sprinkle into dressings and stir-fry just like I did with this noodle dish. Then I whisked together a simple honey and chili powder dressing.
You can serve this right after you toss all ingredients, or chill it for a bit longer. Share it with 4 to 6 friends, or it will make 2 to 3 servings if you enjoy it as a meal. Also, you can make it a heartier meal by adding chopped cooked shrimp, leftover shredded chicken, or diced tofu. Oh, smoked tofu would be delicious in it. I love that stuff.
Easy Asian Noodle Salad with Chili Toasted Peanuts
Makes 4 to 6 servings as a starter
What you’ll need:
1/2 cup lightly salted peanuts
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon gochugaru (Korean chili powder)
6 to 8 ounces cooked rice stick noodles
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
Pinch of fine sea salt
2 cups shredded carrots
2 cups diced cucumber
4 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
How to make it:
Place the peanuts in a small skillet and warm over medium-high heat. Stir in the sesame oil and then sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the chili powder. Continue to toss the peanuts in the skillet 2 to 3 more minutes, until you smell a nutty aroma. Set aside to cool.
Place the noodles in a large bowl and add the lime juice and salt. Add the carrots, cucumber, onions, and cilantro.
Whisk together the soy sauce, honey, and 1/4 teaspoon of the chili powder until smooth. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and noodles, and toss well to coat all ingredients. Season with more soy sauce or salt to taste, if desired.