I know better than to apply logic to the process of feeding kids, but there I was doing exactly that a few weeks ago when I spied the perfect recipe for sesame noodles (aka peanut butter, spaghetti, sesame, etc.) by my friend and mother-of-two Melissa Roberts. The logic went as follows:
If Peanut Butter = Guaranteed Consumption, and Noodles = Guaranteed Consumption, therefore Peanut Butter + Noodles = Mom Twice as Sure About Guaranteed Consumption
How long have I been in this parenting business? Long enough to know that the surer you are about something, the greater the likelihood of failure.
I think my six-year-old, sensing my peanut butter-fueled swagger, figured out that she could really twist the knife if she rejected the sesame noodles (which were delicious). And so I never really had a chance. Here’s what really kills me: She orders the dish at Chinese restaurants as a matter of course and this homemade version was definitely almost as satisfying! Which she would have found out had she deigned to take a bite. My only consolation was that I was able to use the sauce to approximate an appetizer which I used to order at my favorite midtown Japanese sushi restaurant (RIP Expense Account)…goma ae, a steamed spinach with sesame paste. My other daughter likes both peanut butter and spinach but, well, you can probably guess how that one turned out.
“Peanut Butter Sauce” for Sesame Noodles or Spinach
Melissa says it’s crucial to use smooth peanut butter like Skippy or Jif, but I used all-natural and it turned out fine.
1 small garlic clove
1 (1-inch) piece fresh peeled ginger
½ cup smooth peanut butter
2/3 cup warm water
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon red wine or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
½ to 1 teaspoon red chile flakes (to taste)
peanuts, chopped (optional)
With motor running, drop garlic and ginger in the bowl of a food processor until finely chopped. Add peanut butter, water, soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, sugar, and chile flakes and process until smooth.
For sesame noodles:
Toss with a pound of cooked and cooled udon noodles or spaghetti, and top with any combo of the following: chopped peanuts, sliced sugar snap peas, chopped cucumbers, or steamed spinach (about 8 to 10 ounces)
For goma ae:
Steam or saute fresh spinach leaves as you normally would. Scoop into small bowls and chop with kitchen scissors. Toss with a few spoonfuls of sesame sauce.