Monday, July 11, 2011

Cast Party Noodles

July 10, 2011

Dick Reichman, one of Anchorage’s most esteemed playwrights and directors, provided this recipe for Cast Party Noodles a few years ago.  He acquired it at one of the Last Frontier Theater Conferences held yearly in Valdez, Alaska, and sent it along with a note saying, “Makes a great cast-party dish because it finishes while you are at the play and is ready to eat when you come home.” 

It’s ideal for many other situations for that same reason, and it’s also versatile. It serves as a base for your own variations. It’s vegan.  It can be gluten-free, if you substitute rice or other grain noodles and Bragg’s Amino Acids or other seasoning for the soy sauce. It might be peanut-free if you found that other nut butters worked as well.

Dick’s directions for the recipe gave approximate amounts, measured as “a generous dash of vinegar, and “a chopped up bunch of cilantro.” After making this a few dozen times, I’ve arrived at a set of actual measurements for a large batch – enough to serve twelve to fifteen people. 

Cook one and one half pounds of angel hair pasta, following the package directions. Drain, and run cold water over it to cool it. 

Mix until smooth (a blender helps):
3/4 cup of peanut butter (I use creamy; haven’t tried chunky. Tahini was too bland for my taste.)
1/4 cup of honey (Dick’s recipe calls for ½ cup; I prefer the less sweet version)
½ cup of soy sauce
1/8 cup of white vinegar
1/8 cup of vegetable oil (canola or mild-flavored)

At this point you can add chopped green onions (three or four), chopped cilantro or parsley (about 1/4 cup chopped), and hot sesame oil, cayenne or red pepper flakes to taste. A friend adds cooked shredded pork, and it might be tasty with other meats or fish as well (I’m vegetarian so can’t testify from experience). With a batch this size you can freeze individual portions for quick meals. The add-ins don’t survive the freezing well, so save them until it’s time to actually eat the noodles. 

Toss sauce and add-ins with pasta. Let sit at room temperature for an hour or two so that it absorbs the sauce and the flavors meld.

This has become a staple in our kitchen. It has all of the tastes -- sweet (honey), sour (vinegar), salt (soy), bitterness (in the peanut butter) and umami (the fat and oil). It has enough protein and carbs to be sustaining for a long time, and you could throw in some broccoli on the side for vegetables. Many thanks to Dick for theater to sustain the soul and cast party noodles to sustain the body.

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