Thai Noodles & Chicken
4 cloves fresh garlic
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup regular or reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger or bottled minced ginger
Salt for cooking
12 ounces thin pasta or noodles (can use thin spaghetti or angel hair in a pinch)
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, fresh or frozen
8 ounces fresh bean sprouts
1 to 2 bunches scallions (for about 11/2 cups of pieces)
1/4 cup unsalted or lightly salted roasted peanuts
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 cups (6 ounces) fresh snow peas or sugar snap peas (optional)
1 cup Thai-Style Peanut Sauce, defrosted if frozen
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon Asian (dark) sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
Peel the garlic. With the blender on, drop the garlic cloves, one at a time, through the opening in the lid, blending until finely chopped. Pour the lime juice into the blender container. Stop the blender, and add all the remaining ingredients, along with 1/2 cup water. Pulse on high speed just until the ingredients are combined, about 5 seconds.
Scrape down the sides of the blender container and pulse 3 or 4 more times. The sauce is now ready to use with the pasta or as a dipping sauce, or it can be refrigerated or frozen for future use.
Bring 3 quarts lightly salted water to a boil in a covered 4 1/2-quart or larger pot. When the water reaches a rapid boil, add the pasta and cook, uncovered, until just tender, following the package directions. Meanwhile, if the chicken is frozen, place it on a microwave-safe plate and microwave, uncovered, on high power for 3 minutes to partially defrost.
While the chicken defrosts, rinse and drain the bean sprouts, shaking the colander to remove as much water as possible. Set aside. Cut the scallions into roughly 1-inch pieces, using all of the whites and enough tender green tops to make 11/2 cups. Set aside. Coarsely chop the peanuts and set them aside.
Heat the oil in an extra deep 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Cut the chicken (fresh or partially defrosted) into bite-size pieces, adding them to the pan as you cut. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken turns white on the outside, 4 minutes. Then add the snow peas (if using) and scallions to the skillet. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and the snow peas are bright green, about 2 minutes more. Add the bean sprouts and peanut sauce to the skillet, and reduce the heat to low. Stir to mix well, and simmer until ready to serve.
When the pasta is done, drain it in a colander, shaking it to remove as much water as possible. Return the drained pasta to the cooking pot. Add the chicken mixture and toss until well mixed. To serve, divide the pasta, chicken, and vegetables evenly among four plates. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the chopped peanuts over each plate and serve. Makes 4 servings