Allan Bloom of Raleigh is a psychologist and psychoanalyst during the week but an amateur chef on the weekends.
Raised by a very good cook, Bloom realized in college that if he wanted to continue to eat well that he better learn how to cook. He is proud of the fact that he and his family sit down to dinner at least six nights a week.
His go-to dish for potluck dinners is this Cold Spicy Noodles, which can be made with or without chicken.
Bloom notes that he has fine-tuned the recipe over the years since he discovered the original in Craig Clairborne’s “The Chinese Cookbook,” published in 1972. (Clairborne was the former longtime food editor and restaurant critic at The New York Times.)
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About the dish, Bloom wrote: “I have brought this dish to almost every potluck dinner I have been to for the last 40 years. And it always gets rave reviews and tons of requests for the recipe, which I’m delighted to share.”
Our recipe tester could only suggest one improvement: garnishing it with chopped peanuts.
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Cold Spicy Noodles with Chicken
This dish makes a great vegetarian or vegan entree if you omit the chicken. From Allan Bloom of Raleigh.
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast
1/2 pound spaghetti or linguine
3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon hot sesame oil (or a dash of cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce )
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup natural chunky peanut butter
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely shredded
1 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, peeled and coarsely shredded
Chopped roasted peanuts (optional garnish)
TURN on the oven’s broiler. Place chicken breast on a rimmed baking sheet. Put in oven and broil chicken 10 minutes per side. It should still be juicy. When chicken is cool, shred it and set aside.
COOK pasta, according to package instructions. Drain pasta into a colander and rinse with cold water. Toss with a little bit of toasted sesame oil and set aside.
COMBINE toasted sesame oil, hot sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar in a measuring cup. Stir to dissolve.
PLACE peanut butter and garlic into the bowl of food processor or blender. With the motor running, add liquid in a slow steady stream until well blended, about a minute or two. Set aside in a small bowl. (It’s better to let the sauce sit for an hour or more to meld the flavors).
ARRANGE noodles on a large plate or platter. Distribute shredded chicken in a circle on top of the noodles; sprinkle the vegetables over the chicken. (The dish may be made ahead of time up to this point, covered and refrigerated for several hours.)
WHEN ready to serve, pour sauce over the chicken and vegetables, toss thoroughly, garnish with chopped peanuts if desired, and serve. (Note: Do not add the sauce until just before serving or the noodles will stick together.)
Yield: 4 dinner servings or 8 appetizers.