Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Thai?

This entry isn't about using  up leftovers, really, but I just had to write about it. I mean, all those leftovers have to start from some first creation, don't they? Here's the story of one...

I don't know how I came to be so obsessed with the idea of Peanut Butter Pasta, but I did. I did some web research but didn't see anything from anyone about actually making pasta with peanut butter in the dough. I found lots of recipes for noodles in peanut sauce, which sounds good, but not what I was after. I've had several varieties of flavored pasta from Papardelle's, so I thought if anyone has done it, they would've...but no, they only sold some peanut sauce, no PB pasta. So I became even more intrigued, and I decided I HAD to try it. The way I saw it, there were only two possible outcomes...

1) It would be really good and I'd finally have my own truly unique food creation...

or, more likely...

2) It would be so heinous that it would be completely inedible and I would deny ever even THINKING of it, and would try to erase it from my consciousness.

So last Saturday, I decided to try it. I consulted my Italian cooking book, and came up with a plan of attack. Then I got to work. I'll detail the specifics below, but I don't want to keep you in suspense. Which way do YOU think it went???


Want me to tell you?



Here's how it went.

1. Beat 2 eggs with 2 Tbsp. of homemade peanut butter. Add to mixing bowl.

2. In separate bowl, combine 1 c. of unbleached all purpose flour with 1 c. whole wheat flour.

3. Slowly add the flour to the egg/pb mixture. I didn't add quite all of the flour. Probably had about 10% left in the bowl when the dough looked to have enough.

Right about here, I decided it was too dry and I added one more egg mixed with one more Tbsp. of peanut butter. It still seemed a little dry, but I didn't want to add any more than that.

4. Put dough hook on mixer and mix away.

5. Check dough. Let it mix some more.

6. Check dough again. Fret that it's resembling PB cookie dough. See if patting dough together by hand helps. It does. Draw encouragement from that and try dough hook again.

7. Heave one large, dramatic sigh.

8. Turn off mixer, take dough out of bowl and release on lightly floured counter.

9. Knead dough by hand for a few minutes. Fret more that it resembles cookie dough. Try not to dwell. Add a teeny tiny bit of peanut oil to the dough and resume kneading. All told, I kneaded it for about 8 minutes.

10. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest on counter for about 45 - 60 mins. Let it go. Try not to worry what will happen next.

11. Unwrap and pat out a bit on lightly floured counter.

12. Grab rolling pin, dust with flour and apply elbow grease. To my great surprise, it rolled out beautifully!

Keep in mind, I usually have problems rolling out pie dough and cookie dough. They tend to stick no matter what I do. This time, though, I was able to roll, turn, flip, rotate, stretch, whatever, and it just kept responding remarkably.

13. Once I got it thin enough, almost see thru, but not quite, it was time to cut the noodles. I had read somewhere about rolling the dough up and cutting into the desired width, but thought that it'd just stick to itself, so instead, I doubled it over on itself. Then, armed only with a ruler (for a straightedge) and a pizza cutter, I went to work. I wanted them to be about the width of fettucini noodles, so I eyeballed the width to be about 3/8 - 1/2" wide and ran the pizza cutter along side the ruler. Then I carefully picked them up in case they got compressed from the ruler. I did get a little bit of breakage from where I was pressing on the ruler, but nothing too bad.

14. Now...drying. How am I gonna dry these beauties? I propped up two cooling racks long-wise, so they looked a little like a pup tent. Then I draped the long noodles over them so they could get lots of air circulation on both sides.

That's it! Now all I had to do was let them dry until I wanted to cook them up and make a Sesame Shrimp Sauce.  (I took inspiration from Pad Thai to create this dish.)

15. After marinading some 16 - 20 count shrimp in Drew's Sesame Orange Marinade for an hour or so, I stir fried them in a mix of a small amount of sesame oil and a bit more peanut oil. When they were pink, I removed them from the skillet and added some sliced scallions and matchstick carrots. Stir fried them for a few mins and then covered them to let them steam a little bit. Then I added some bean sprouts and stir fried them for a few mins. Next it was time for the shrimp to get back in the mix. I added them back to the pan. Next I threw in a few handsful of rough chopped peanuts and about half of an anaheim pepper that I'd chopped. (I removed about half of the seeds.)

16. While all that was going on, I put the dried noodles in some boiling salted water and let them go for about 5 - 6 mins.

17. When all the noodles were floating on the top, I tasted one to see if it was cooked enough. It was, so I drained them in a collander. I added about a Tbsp of peanut oil to the same pot and put the pasta back in there just to give it a touch more peanut flavor.

18. Now I dumped the noodles in a big pasta serving bowl, and put the sauce on top. After tossing with tongs, I added some uncooked peanuts, a little more chopped pepper and grated some lime zest over the whole bowl.

19. To serve, I put some in each pasta bowl, with some bean sprouts to one side, and a wedge of lime.

I can't tell you how shocked and excited I was when I tasted it and it really was good! I was especially happy with the raw peanuts in the dish, and for some reason found that surprising. I can easily see doing this same thing with chicken or almost any type of protein.

20. Next time you think you can't do something just because you don't think anyone else has...forget that! Do it anyway!


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