The Perfect Gift

For my birthday this year my friend gave me the coolest cookbook that combines two things I love: recipes and Chicago restaurants. Chicago Chef’s Table highlights many of the city’s greatest eateries followed by a recipe for a signature dish served at each place. Since I’ve often wished I could get my hands on recipes from some of my favorite restaurants, this book is the answer to my prayers!

The minute I received the gift, I flipped through each page, one by one, admiring the delicious food pictures and breathtaking Chicago photography. Even if I had no intention of cooking anything from the book, it would still be a fun thing to have. But that wasn’t the case. I was eccstatic to find a recipe for Mana Food Bar’s Sesame Noodles with Peanut Dressing. Not only is Mana one of my favorite casual joints, but I’ve also eaten this dish in the restaurant several times.

Last night I finally had the chance to make the noodle recipe in my own kitchen, and oh man, it did not disappoint. Not to ring my own dinner bell, but my recreation was every bit as spicy, tasty and enjoyable as when I’ve eaten it in house. Clearly I’m obsessed and craving it again right now as I’m writing this. I served the noodles alongside Asian Glazed Chicken from Cooking Light, and let’s just say the entire meal was 5 star.

Mana Food Bar’s Sesame Noodles with Peanut Dressing

What You Need

    For the peanut dressing
  • 2 tablespoon sesame seed paste (tahini)
  • 1 teaspoon creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Siracha or other hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • For the sesame noodles and garnish
  • 1 8-oz. bag Chinese yellow noodles, cooked according to instructions and chilled
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 12 pea pods, shredded
  • 1 cup daikon sprouts
  • ½ cup roasted peanuts, chopped

What To Do

  1. In a food processor or blender, add first six dressing ingredients and pulse until coarsely blended.
  2. Slowly add oil and continue to pulse. Pour in soy sauce and rice vinegar and pulse until smooth and creamy.
  3. In a large bowl, place noodles, carrot, and pea pods. Add dressing and toss until well combined. Garnish with sprouts and peanuts.

Asian Glazed Chicken

What You Need

  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

What To Do

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Combine first four ingredients in a medium bowl; stir well. Add chicken; toss to coat.
  3. Let chicken marinate for 20 minutes.
  4. Place chicken on grill rack coated with olive oil or cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from grill.
  5. Serve whole or sliced.

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