With a rich peanut-y sauce and loads of veggies, this Shrimp and Vegetable Soba Noodles recipe is delightful served hot or cold.
When I first walked into my old house — the one we owned — I was struck with how small it felt. But I pushed the gut feeling away and instead embraced its newness and its attractive price. It was a blank canvas in the right area and available at the right time! It was also one of the most affordable homes in the sought after town my ex-husband and I planned to live in. Things worked out, and it became ours sometime that summer.
Over the years, I’d recall that gut feeling again and again as the walls seemed to close in on me. Though there was room for renovating and making the house larger, we never did that. It didn’t get any more spacious and I never liked it more than when I first saw it. Why hadn’t I listened to my gut?
I learned over those years that location and price alone cannot make a house the right one for you. There’s so much more that’s important — space, feeling and fit, for instance. Choosing a property that you’ll love and want to maintain, for another. Really, you should only buy a project house if you really will do the projects to make it what you want. Ultimately, we didn’t and that house felt more and more like an albatross I’d never escape.
Then, finally, mercifully, I did.
Here in Maine, I’ve lived in a little townhouse I rented during a speedy trip for nearly three years. When I walked in here, I felt the little tug of “I could live here.” The place is small, but there’s enough room for us. And it checked off a number of other boxes for me — location, rent, feeling.
So even though we’ve outgrown it, I’m not rushed to find something bigger. I’ve seen at least a half dozen other rentals and none have felt right to me. This time, I am approaching this with more caution and thought. And when the right place opens up, then we’ll move.
Until then, we’re good here.
In Stephen King’s book “On Writing,” he talks about how he develops his many tales that have delighted, frightened and entertained fans for decades. In a nutshell, it all starts with a “what if”? What if sometimes the dead came back? What if a crazed clown terrorized a city? I don’t know if these are Stephen King’s questions, but they are the ones I’d imagine could have led to some of his works.
To some extent, I follow a similar thought process when I am considering a new place to live. I ask myself “What if we lived here?” And then I let my imagination lead me, and my gut inform me. While nice kitchens, additional bathrooms and quaint details can make a place attractive, it’s the whole package that you — or I, really — need to consider. How close is it to the road? Is there busing? What’s the yard like? What’s the area like? Who are the neighbors?
Likewise, when it comes to cooking, I do something similar to develop new recipes. What if I cook this in a different way? Or toss peanut butter in the sauce? Or swap these ingredients for these other ones? It’s a trial and error of dreaming, attempting and evaluating. And sometimes it works out … other times, not so much. I think the same can be said of so many things in life — including my process for finding a new place to live (I’m still mourning the one place I didn’t see last spring that seemed just about perfect).
It was with that thought process that this recipe came about. It started with “what if I made a soba noodle dish with shrimp?” and continued with “what about a peanuty sauce?” The results … they speak for themselves.
For this Shrimp and Vegetable Soba Noodles recipe, I started with fresh veggies — zucchini, red pepper peppers, scallions — and some plump shrimp, and sauteed them until the vegetables were crisp tender and the shrimp was just cooked. When cooked right (that is, when it’s cooked to just opaque) shrimp is tender and lovely.
Then I transferred all that to a bowl with cooked (and rinsed with cold water) soba noodles while I made the sauce.
The sauce for this Shrimp and Vegetable Soba Noodles recipe is a mixture of soy sauce, vegetable broth, peanut butter and sesame oil. It’s rich and balanced with notes of saltiness, sweetness and peanutiness. Perfect with the soda noodles.
When it’s all tossed together at the end, the noodles, the veggies, the shrimp and the sauce all get a chance in the spotlight. And it’s delightful.
Shrimp and Vegetable Soba Noodles
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 bunch scallions , chopped
- 1 medium zucchini , halved and sliced into 1/4-inch thick half-moons
- 1 medium red bell pepper , thinly sliced into 2-inch long pieces
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 lb shrimp , peeled and deveined (tails can be on or off)
- 1/3 cup vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp creamy peanut butter
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp dark sesame oil
- 1 package soba noodles
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the scallions, zucchini, red bell pepper and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the shrimp. Stir well. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the shrimp is just opaque. Do not over cook.
- Meanwhile, cook the soba noodles according to package directions. Once cooked, rinse with cool water.
- Place the soba noodles and the vegetable-shrimp mixture together in a large bowl.
- On the stove, in the same pan set over medium heat, add the vegetable broth, soy sauce, peanut butter, cornstarch and dark sesame oil. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened -- about 5 minutes. Pour the sauce over the noodles and vegetable-shrimp mixture. Toss well to combine.
- Serve. This can be enjoyed warm or cooled.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Her latest cookbook is The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, published by Rockridge Press, which focuses on quick, easy, from-scratch cooking for busy people. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.