Weather: 52 degrees, breezy with sunshine
What I’m listening to: the sound of a riding lawnmower outside

We requested the table beside the window when we arrived for our dinner reservation at Little Bird Bistro in Portland. With all the once-in-a-lifetime food I’d eaten throughout the weekend, I had practically no well-lit pictures to show for it that did the marvelous food any proper justice whatsoever. Elegant late night dinners in intimate dimly-lit venues are perfect for enjoying fine food and even finer company, but alas, they are the great enemy of food photography.

Hence, the request for the delightful little table by the window. I was bound and determined to get some natural light shining beautifully on my last supper before I boarded a plane later that night to head home to Alaska.

Conversation flowed, food was savored, and pictures were inevitably taken. At some point during the meal, somewhere between bites of pea tendrils and asparagus, Karista asked,”What is your favorite food, anyway? I don’t even know.”

Because this is what happens, I’ve learned, when bloggers become friends online. You can know one another for years via computers, smart phones, and social media and get to know each other quite well, yet not know the little everyday details you might know about a friend when you know them in person – like their favorite color or what kind of car they drive or where they were born or the fact that you carry almost identical pink and white iPhone cases.

“I have a weakness for anything that’s a noodle,” I respond.

She grins and nods in a knowing way, as if to say don’t we all? 

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Ah, noodles. Chow mein? Yes. Ramen? You bet. Fettuccine? Absolutely. Pad Thai? Swoon. Spaghetti and meatballs? Please and thank you. If there is a noodle of any variety on offer I have an impossible time selecting anything else on the menu. Eventually, I give in and order the blessed noodles. Darn you, noodles, you win every time. I’m putty in your slippery proverbial hands.

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These noodles are particularly addictive thanks to a brilliant sauce adapted from Pinch of Yum’s Hoisin Pork with Rice Noodles that highlights many of my other favorite things like ginger, garlic, and peanut. Once you have the sauce and rice noodles down, this recipe is highly adaptable. I used chicken, but shrimp or pork would be excellent substitutions. For the vegetables, I used red bell peppers and shredded carrots for texture and color, but I can think of many other delicious variations like adding snow peas or zucchini. Feel free to never make it the same way twice and play around with seasonal variations.

Oh, and this makes terrific leftovers. If you have any left over, that is.

Ginger Peanut Hoisin Noodles with Chicken

Insanely flavorful and addictive ginger peanut hoisin noodles with chicken and fresh vegetables. Adapted from [Pinch of Yum|http://pinchofyum.com/hoisin-pork-with-rice-noodles].

Yields: 4-6 servings

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 dash of fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1½ pounds skinless chicken (I used breast meat, but thighs would also be good), cut into bite-size strips
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 9 ounces rice noodles (I used thin)
  • ½ cup peanuts, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup green onions, finely sliced
  • ½ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • For serving:
  • Lime wedges
  • Sriracha sauce

To a blender or food processor, add the soy, water, sesame oil, honey, sugar, fish sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, hoisin, and peanut butter. Process until completely smooth.

Place the chicken pieces in a plastic zipper bag or shallow sealable container. Pour half of the sauce over the chicken, reserving the rest of the sauce. Seal the chicken and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Refrigerate the other half of the sauce also, separately.

Prepare the rice noodles according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, stir-fry the marinated chicken until cooked through and browned, adding the bell pepper and carrots in the last couple minutes of cooking. Stir in the reserved sauce and heat through. Add the noodles to the pan and toss to coat. Remove from heat. Top with peanuts, green onions, and cilantro. Serve promptly with lime wedges and Sriracha.

 

 

 

 

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