Getting a takeaway is usually better in theory than in practice. There is the excitement of ordering too much food and planning a carefree night in front of Netflix; there is the anticipation of waiting for your flat’s buzzer to trill. But then: those spring rolls or onion bhajis, which sounded so enticing on Deliveroo, arrive over-steamed and limp in their plastic, or woefully under-seasoned, or swimming in grease. They just don’t quite hit the spot.
Perhaps that’s why the “takeout-style” genre of cooking has been so appealing to me – lately, I’ve craved quick-and-ready comfort with a hint of forbidden pleasure. Food is still best when it doesn’t have a commute, when you can scoop it from the frying pan straight into your bowl. And so I’ve found myself making these simple, satisfying, irresistible peanut noodles of late.
On the one hand, they’re infinitely riffable: I use cubes of fried halloumi here as the protein, though you could just as easily go with chicken (or tempeh, if you’re a vegan – don’t forget to swap the fish sauce for soy sauce in that case). On the other hand, this simple peanut sauce hits all the right points – salt and chilli heat, acid and sweetness. It’s worth holding onto and to make every time a dipping sauce is required.
There are numerous beers that would work brilliantly with this dish – you could make a strong case for pilsner, or lobby for saison. But in this case, I love the way Polly’s Brew Co.’s Simcoe Mosaic IPA flatters its flavour profile.
Polly’s Brew Co – formerly known as Loka Polly – has only been around since last year, but it’s already turning out some of the most delicious hoppy styles I’ve had in recent months. This IPA is no different: luscious, pillowy and potent, its savoury edge picks up the dish’s umami funk, its balanced bitterness cuts through the richness of the sauce, and its sweetness offers the equivalent of a few slices of finishing mango.
Overall, the two are the ideal makings of your next Netflix binge session. Sure, cooking at home means you’ve got a few extra dishes to do, and a bit of chopping. But the end results make the process worthwhile.
Peanut Noodles with Fried Halloumi
Adapted from Half-Baked Harvest
For the peanut sauce:
150g smooth peanut butter
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ tablespoon sambal oelek
1 tablespoon honey
4 tablespoons hot water
For the noodles:
250g (9oz) halloumi, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 large carrot, grated
100g (3 ½oz) spring onions, finely chopped, white and green parts separated
250g (9oz) bean sprouts
400g (14oz) pad Thai-style rice noodles
Large handful roasted, unsalted peanuts
Large handful Thai basil
Large handful coriander
1. First, make the peanut sauce. Add all ingredients, barring the hot water, into a medium- sized bowl, and whisk until combined. Slowly drizzle in the hot water, whisking constantly, until the sauce is pourable but still relatively thick. Set aside.
2. Fry the halloumi. Place a large, non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, and add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. When hot, add the halloumi cubes. Cook for 5–6 minutes, turning frequently, or until golden-brown all over. Transfer to a bowl and wipe out the frying pan.
3. Add the remaining tablespoons of both oils to the pan and place over high heat. Add the grated carrot, spring onions (white parts only), and the bean sprouts. Cook, tossing frequently, for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant, hot, but still crisp. Turn off the heat and set aside.
4. Meanwhile, boil a large pot of salted water. Add the rice noodles and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain.
5. Add the cooked vegetables, the halloumi, and the peanut sauce to the drained noodles, and, using tongs, toss until evenly combined and coated. Divide between pasta bowls and finish with the peanuts, Thai basil, coriander and the reserved spring onion greens. Serve immediately.
Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table: Seasonal Recipes and Modern Beer Pairings, is out now and available in all good book stores (and at HB &B). Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.