Weeknight Shorts: Inspired Noodles

Shrimp is great fast food. It cooks quickly, lets you know when you're done, and always lends a little elegance to a meal. If you pair it with the right selection of ingredients, you can even have dinner that looks like this on your table in less than a half hour:

The trick to this dish is a simple sauce that lends a lot more complexity to the dish than you might imagine. Just four simple ingredients bring a world of flavor to the table. You can make it a bit spicier or milder, depending on your preferences. Remember that the peanut butter will be adding a lot of sweetness, creaminess, and protein to this sauce, so tasting to make sure you have the right combination is pretty important. I sometimes just make a double or triple batch so I have more on hand to just toss with noodles and shredded carrots and other veggies when I want a super-fast lunch.

Now, it's time to talk about the veggies and shrimp for just a bit. Choose the highest quality options you have available and you won't be disappointed. Remember that sometimes that means opting for frozen shrimp, since you can absolutely find yourself disappointed with shrimp that's labeled "fresh". I've also been really surprised at what a difference very fresh ginger makes in a dish. It's got the same bite you expect from ginger, but an added sweetness that is hard to do without once you've gotten used to it!

Finally, you can boil your rice noodles, but I prefer to set mine in a glass bowl and pour very hot/boiling water over them and let them soak while I sauté the vegetables and the shrimp. The result is a forkful of noodles that are tender without being mushy. In fact, if I can avoid putting my rice noodles on the stove, I do just that and have had amazing results. And hey -- you have one less pan to watch on the stove. For that and a meal that can be on the table in about 20 minutes, it's enough to make you smile!

Peanut Butter Shrimp Pad Thai

  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 1-4 teaspoons sambal oelek, depending on your spice preference
  • 1-2 tablespoons lime juice, depending on how thin you want your sauce
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 4-6 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped asparagus (I prefer thin spears for this dish)
  • 1/2 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 pound medium-wide rice noodles, soaked in warm water until softened and drained

Combine the first 4 ingredients (hoisin sauce thru lime juice) to make a highly fragrant sauce for your dish. Set aside.

Heat the canola oil over medium-high heat in a nonstick skillet. (You can begin soaking the noodles while the oil is heating.) Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the onions and asparagus and stir-fry for an additional 5 minutes. Add the prepared shrimp and stir-fry for an additional 8 minutes or until the shrimp are no longer pink. Add the sauce you put together earlier and the drained noodles and toss well to make sure everything is evenly-coated with the sauce. Serve warm.

  • Yields: 3-4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

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