Sunday, October 6, 2013

mah jong mien (aka peanut butter noodles)

a light meal that is rich in flavour
I have no idea why this is called Mah Jong Mien in Taiwan, as it has nothing to do with the game of tiles, but it has been a staple go to meal growing up in our household.  My mom is the queen of putting together a healthy home cooked meal in minutes from items found in her pantry and fridge, and this peanut butter noodle dish is just one of those.  I think we ate this as kids weekly - and still do whenever we are home to visit.  My mom's version is even simpler - she mixes peanut butter, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and garlic together in a bowl until smooth then tosses it with the noodles and vegetables.  It's super easy and tasty.  Below is my take on our family staple.

what you need:
for the peanut sauce
  • 2 heaping tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp naturally brewed soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 slices fresh ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 green onions
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 tsp white pepper 
for the noodles
  • 4 servings of any dry asian noodle, you can even use pasta (e.g. linguine)
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro
  • a small bunch broccolini (or broccoli) 
what to do:
  1. Start by getting your sauce ready.  Thinly slice ginger and roughly chop garlic.  Cut off bottom white part of green onions (about 2 inches) and slice lengthwise.  Get the rest of the ingredients for the sauce measured and ready on hand.
  2. In a small sauce pan on medium, heat up grapeseed and sesame oil.  Add ginger, garlic, and onions.  Sauté for about 1 min, then deglaze with the water.  Add soy sauce, peanut butter, vinegar, and white pepper.  Stir until peanut butter dissolves, and reduce heat down to a simmer.  Allow it to reduce to about half.
    garlic, onions, and ginger sautéing
    reducing sauce
  3. Get a large pot of water on the stove on high heat to cook the noodles.
  4. While waiting for the pot to boil, clean and prepare vegetables.  Peel and grate the carrots, and slice broccoli into long slim pieces.  Slice remaining green onion on a bias and roughly tear cilantro.  
  5. Once the water is boiling, add noodles.  Depending on what kind of noodles you are using, your cooking time will vary.  Whatever your package indicates, set your timer for 1 minute shy of it's cooking time.  This is because you want to put the vegetables in with the noodles to cook for 1 minute.  
  6. Drain noodles and vegetables, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
  7. Return noodles and vegetables to pot and pour reduced peanut sauce over noodles and toss.  You may need to add a little bit of the cooking liquid if the noodles seem too dry.  Toss in some of your cilantro and green onions, but reserve a small amount for garnish.
  8. Transfer noodles to serving platter and top with cilantro and green onion for garnish.  Serve with your favourite hot sauce if desired - we used sriracha.  Enjoy!
with sriracha


  1. my friend asked me what deglaze means: it means to "lift off" flavour in your pan by adding liquid. so for example, if you were browning onions in your pan, and you added water to the pan, you would be "deglazing" by lifting off all the onion flavour from the bottom of the pan.

  2. Oh and after my mom read this she informed me that "Mah Jong" just sounds like the game but the written words are actually different! ;)