Being carless, John and I rely almost totally on what we can buy within a walking radius of our apartment. This means we buy 90% of our groceries at the Persian market, the Asian market, and the farmer's market.
The Persian market supplies copious flatbreads, twenty pound bags of rice, and fresh tamarind pods. The Asian market offers 5 homemade tofu blocks for $1, a second round of twenty pound bags of rice, a massive array of tea, and half an aisle solidly packed with noodles. The farmer's market, of course, bursts with fruit, vegetables, eggs, and bread. Man, is this ever awesome.
So one day I hit up the Asian market and brought home a package of somen.
We've had plenty of soba, udon, ramen (ugh), and rice noodles, but these were new. Somen are long wheat noodles sliced so finely they almost resemble a set of very pale mechanical pencil leads. They take maybe two minutes to go from raw to cooked through. Clearly, they are excellent to have on hand for emergency dinner.
or: Somen with peanut sauce and broccoli
fresh hot pepper
sambal oelek or other hot pepper jam
Put a pot of water on to boil while you make the sauce.
So. Chop up a small onion or half a large one. In a second pan over medium-high heat, soften the onion in a little oil. This is one situation where I wouldn't use olive oil. We used safflower, but peanut oil would clearly work very well here.
Smash and chop a clove or two of garlic; add it to the pan. Finely slice some hot pepper and add that as well. We used a fairly mild long green pepper along with the ubiquitous hot red pepper. Multiple kinds of pepper will give your finished product some welcome complexity; just make sure you don't use so many peppers (or such hot peppers) as to set your taste buds on fire. We're adding more pepper later!
Cut up a stalk of broccoli, separating florets into smaller pieces, and peeling and dicing any edible stem. When the onion and pepper mixture is fully soft and fragrant, add the broccoli to the pan, along with a generous spoonful of peanut butter, a sprinkling of soy sauce, and a spoonful of sambal oelek or other hot pepper jam. As well, give the business a thorough grinding of lots of fresh black pepper. Mix this all together and let it cook.
Next, drop your somen into the now-boiling pot of water. Cook for two minutes, then taste. When cooked through, drain, leaving just a little water clinging to the noodles. By this time your sauce should be pretty well cooked through; taste and see if you want to add any more soy or what have you. Tip the noodles into the sauce and stir to coat.
Serve and eat with a final sprinkling of black pepper.