Guest Post: Spicy Peanut Chicken and Cucumber Cold Noodles

Mattster Chef is back on the blog! Tonight, Matt will be writing about one of our easy weeknight meals.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything for Our Happy Jar, and April wanted me to post this recipe because it’s one of our favourite cold noodle dishes and also super easy to make.

Spicy Peanut Chicken and Cucumber Cold Noodles

wpid-img-20140908-wa0001_1.jpg

It tastes better than it looks!

 Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)
  • 1 package of spaghetti or noodles
  • 2 pieces of chicken breast (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 English cucumber (julienned)
  • 4 tablespoons of natural peanut butter (crunchy)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce + ½ tablespoon to marinate chicken
  • ½ tablespoon of dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil (split into halves)
  • Chili oil to taste
  • Water (varies)
Directions
  1. The first thing to do is cut up your chicken into small pieces. I try to cut mine into long, narrow pieces to give it a shredded chicken feel.
  2. Once your chicken has been cut up, marinate it with the minced garlic, ½ tablespoon of soy sauce, and ½ of the sesame oil, and mix it up. Once mixed, let the chicken marinate for as long or as little as you would like. Obvious rules apply: the longer you marinate, the more taste the chicken will have.
  3. While the chicken is marinating, start to julienne the cucumber and make the peanut sauce.
  4. For the peanut sauce: in a large bowl, add the peanut butter, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, ½ tablespoon of dark soy sauce, ½ sesame oil, and chili oil. Once all the ingredients are added, stir them together. The mixture will be thick, which is where the water comes in; slowly add water little-by-little and stir it into the peanut sauce.  This will gradually reduce its thickness, and you can stop adding water when it has enough of a saucy consistency (basically, you need it to be able to easily coat your noodles).
  5. When the chicken is done marinating, boil the water for the pasta and heat a pan for the chicken. The chicken can be cooked and set aside while you’re making the pasta. Once the pasta is done, run it under cold water to cool (if you have time, you can also let it cool naturally).
  6. After the pasta is cooled, get a large mixing bowl, and throw the pasta, cucumbers, and chicken together. Pour the peanut sauce over everything and toss thoroughly so everything is mixed well.

And then you’re done! This is a quick and easy meal that practically anyone can to make during the week, which is a requirement for us because we both work all day.

Where We Ate: Nashville Edition!

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Nashville for work, so Matt flew in a couple of days later for a mini vacation. I got a few incredulous reactions to this—and to be fair, I guess it’s not the most conventional vacay spot for 2 Asians—but why not explore a new city? And like all good trips, wherever Our Happy Jar goes, good food follows…

Where We Ate

Etch

Our experience at Etch was great. Impeccable service and really delicious food! The restaurant is also right across from the Country Music Hall of Fame 🙂

What We Ate: 

  • Butter tasting (prosciutto truffle, smoked parmesan black pepper, ginger cashew, and malt vinegar butter): It’s really just bread and butter, but the butter is amazing! Mixing them together was even more awesome!
  • Tempura catfish with watermelon and blueberries: Yummy, but the least memorable.
  • Roasted cauliflower with truffled pea pesto, almonds, and feta crema: Delish!
  • Pork chop with gnocchi, trio of mushrooms, asparagus, basil, frisee, smoked ham jus potato, and chorizo: The pork was really tender… to die for!
  • Orange creamsicle (white chocolate vanilla bean ganache, orange sorbet, white chocolate crumble, mango orange sauce, lemon macarons): This was really light and so yummy, which was a perfect way to end the meal!

wpid-img_20140717_221850.jpg

wpid-img-20140724-wa0007.jpg

Etch on Urbanspoon

The Pharmacy Burger Parlour and Beer Garden

The Pharmacy was really out of the way for us and hard to get to without a car, but it was definitely worth the trip. I know burgers are a dime a dozen, but the burgers at this place are out of this world (the photo below doesn’t do them justice)! I would go back again just for those burgers… the large selection of beers doesn’t hurt either! It was also like eating in someone’s large backyard—plants, picnic tables, strings of lights—which I absolutely loved. What We Ate

  • Farm burger: Tennessee beef, country ham, applewood-smoked bacon, egg, and maple mustard
  • Stroganoff burger: Tennessee beef, mushroom stroganoff bechamel, sour cream, caramelized onion, and swiss cheese
  • Black bean and corn salad and hand-cut sweet potato fries

wpid-img-20140724-wa0003.jpg

The Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden on Urbanspoon

Husk

Husk was also a little out of the way, but not too far of a walk from downtown. It was a really cute restaurant set up in a house, with a herb and veggie garden out front. What We Ate

  • Deviled eggs with pickled ramps
  • Ember “grilled” pimento cheese sandwich
  • Shrimp and grits with mushrooms, ham, and egg: This was one of the best parts of the meal!
  • Buttermilk chess pie with Georgia peaches and cream: SO good… it reminded me of the basque cake from Bar Isabel!

 wpid-img_20140718_154107.jpg

Husk on Urbanspoon

Rolf and Daughters

Another restaurant that was pretty out of the way for us (are you seeing a theme here?) Also, Rolf and Daughters has been written up extensively, so it was understandably busy. We were told that it’d be an hour wait, but fortunately, it was much shorter, and we got to hang out with drinks outside for a bit. The restaurant is located in an old warehouse, which was cool. What We Ate

  • Chicken liver pate with green tomato marmalade and cacao: YUM.
  • Dry-aged beef tartare with salsa verde and toast
  • Polenta with charred and pickled eggplant and bonito
  • Squid ink trofie,with shrimp, squid, pancetta, and lemon: Really, really good, but wasn’t quite like Joso’s squid ink pasta.
  • Mixed roast of pork with corn, squash, okra, and bay laurel: This was pretty awesome too.

wpid-img_20140718_201107.jpg   wpid-img-20140724-wa0005.jpg

Rolf and Daughters on Urbanspoon

The Southern

Live music, oysters, and blood orange mimosas for brunch? Hell yeah! Matt’s fried chicken and waffles was pretty darn good too.

What We Ate

  • Oysters!
  • The Highway (fried chicken breast on a waffle with maple syrup): Crunchy, just the right amount of heat, and perfect with the syrup!
  • Steak & Biscuit Benedict (grilled beef tenderloin, poached eggs, and hollandaise on a blue cheese biscuit): Meh.

wpid-img-20140724-wa0004.jpg

The Southern Steak & Oyster on Urbanspoon

Mason Bar

Mason Bar was located in our hotel, the Loews Vanderbilt. We decided to go for happy hour (4 to 6 pm), which was awesome: $3 for all draught beers and half-priced appetizers! The bar is also really cool… all decked out in mason jars! The theme of the bar is especially cute to me because 1) so many happy jars! and 2) if Matt and I ever have a son, we want to name him Mason 🙂

wpid-img_20140719_175404.jpg

 

wpid-photogrid_1406259549730.jpg

What We Ate

  • Crab corn dogs: These were surprisingly good. We expected mini corn dogs, but they were generous portions and stuffed full of crab meat! Definitely worth getting, especially at half the price.
  • Truffle fries

Mason's on Urbanspoon

Merchants

The restaurant is located in a beautiful building (which has a long history), and it’s right in the middle of Broadway, nestled among all the surrounding honky-tonks. Unfortunately, we were really full, so we only had a bunch of apps.

What We Ate

  • Duck fat tater tots with chipotle mayo, bearnaise, ketchup: So bad for you, but they are made perfectly crispy!
  • Fried green tomatoes with spicy pepper jam and house pimento cheese: This was only okay.
  • Shrimp corn chowder: Nothing special.

wpid-img-20140724-wa0008.jpg

Merchants Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken

This is a good bang-for-your-buck place (their fried chicken plates range from $8.50 to $11.50 and are served with 2 sides), but I didn’t think the chicken was overly amazing. We waited in a long line though, so it’s obviously very popular!

What We Ate

  • Small white (breast and wing)
  • Large dark (2 thighs and 2 legs)
  • French fries, mac and cheese, southern greens, and potato salad

wpid-img-20140724-wa0006.jpg

Hattie B's Hot Chicken on Urbanspoon

Other Eating and Drinking

Nashville Farmers’ Market and Legato Gelato

We did a lot of walking on this trip, which was probably good because we needed to burn those calories. One of those long walks was to the Nashville Farmers’ Market, which was really fun! We obviously couldn’t buy any fresh produce, but we did get to hit up the Legato Gelato stand.

The guy there was very nice—he let us sample as much as we wanted—and the gelato was so good! We opted to try the donut gelato since that was something different, and it was surprisingly light-tasting but still sufficiently donut-y. I wish we had time to go visit their storefront location!

wpid-img_20140719_124331.jpg

The Breweries: Yazoo, Jackalope, and Tennessee Brew Works

These were all within walking distance of one another, so Matt and I decided to do a little brewery-hopping before our dinner at Etch. Yazoo had the best selection and a good sampler for us to try, I liked the picnic tables at Jackalope, and Tennessee Brew Works had a big patio, nice indoor space, and live music. Hitting up these breweries was so much fun, and I had a really nice buzz by the end!

wpid-img_20140717_215734.jpg

 

Phew… looks like we crammed a lot of eating and drinking in during our trip to Nashville! Our next trip is to Boston in September, so we’re looking forward to more good eats (and past favourites)… stay tuned 😉

Where We Ate: Zen Japanese Restaurant, Cha Time, The Fuzz Box (Toronto)

This weekend was definitely a food-filled one, starting from Friday dinner all the way through to our nephew’s 1st birthday party on Sunday, where there were a lot of good eats! That’s maybe while I’m feeling a bit sluggish and lazy today, so I apologize for babbling (more than usual) in this post 😉

Zen Japanese Restaurant

Matt had seen positive reviews for Zen Japanese Restaurant, but we weren’t able to make reservations the two prior times we tried. We didn’t really think about it again until we saw a photo of delicious-looking sashimi on my close friend J’s Instagram account, which piqued our interest to go again!

So on Friday, we headed to Scarborough with our good friends D and K to give it a try. The place is incredibly small, but all the best places seem to be! Matt and I shared the grilled ika, omakase sashimi, and Tokujyo Zushi, all of which were really fresh and very yummy. The fresh scallops were definitely the winner!

ika-sashimi-sushi

We also had their homemade mandarin pie, which was surprisingly light and delicious. I am also a sucker for Asahi Black, so whenever it’s available, it’s on my must-order list!

Mandarin Pie

Asahi BlackKirin

Zen Japanese on Urbanspoon

Cha Time

One of my coworkers mentioned bubble tea that day, which got me craving taro milk tea. So after Zen, we headed to the Cha Time at Yonge and Finch, where the line was out the door! Luckily, the wait wasn’t too long, and we managed to get a table. It was pretty insane that there was a steady stream of customers while we were there… at $5 a pop on average, they’re probably earning a killing! Interestingly, they have a bunch of locations around the world, and a few locations have popped up in Toronto/the GTA.

Cha Time

Matt ordered the roasted milk tea with grass jelly, while I had the taro milk tea with tapioca. Matt’s was good, but I wish I could say the same for mine! The powder wasn’t mixed in well, so it just tasted really powdery. It was also way too sweet! They do give you a lot of options (more or less ice, % of sweetness, etc.), so if I ever do give it a second chance, I may opt for a less-sweet, tapioca-less version of what I had.

Chatime North York on Urbanspoon

The Fuzz Box

As I mentioned in this post, there are a few places in Toronto that sell Halifax-style donairs. The Fuzz Box is one of them, so Matt and I went to go try with a big group of our friends. In terms of how it compared to Hopgood’s Foodliner, I think that you get a lot more bang for your buck at The Fuzz Box (which, in case you’re wondering, is inspired by the name of the owner’s band), and I could see people going there after a night of drinking or for a quick inexpensive meal. Although the ones at Hopgood’s were smaller and more expensive, I personally liked them better. I found them less greasy and not as oversauced, but I definitely still think that the donairs from both places were good in their own ways. I would go back to both!

The Fuzz Box on Urbanspoon