Asian Peanut Noodles


1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
12 ounces dried soba or udon noodles
3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
18 sprigs fresh cilantro, long stems removed
2/3 cup natural peanut butter (no added sugar)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons packed, peeled, and finely chopped fresh ginger (from about a 3-inch piece)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 2 limes)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 jalapeño, stemmed and coarsely chopped
2 medium scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced into 1/2-inch strips
1/2 medium English cucumber, thinly sliced crosswise


Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the carrots and cook until just crisp-tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the carrots to a colander.

Add the noodles to the pot of boiling water and cook according to the package directions. While the noodles are cooking, transfer the carrots to a small bowl and set aside. Place the colander in the sink.

When the noodles are ready, drain them through the colander and rinse under cold water until cool. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl, drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil, and toss to coat; set aside.

Place the remaining 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, cilantro, peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic, and jalapeño in a blender. Blend until smooth, stopping as necessary to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula (if the mixture is too thick, add hot tap water 1 teaspoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached); leave the sauce in the blender.

Add the reserved carrots, scallions, bell pepper, and cucumber to the bowl with the noodles and pour the peanut sauce over top. Toss until well combined. Serve at room temperature or cold.

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