There is no shame in admitting this. After all, most of us spend most of the year wishing life would slow down enough to have just one evening now and again to do nothing and veg with a movie. So why not embrace this desire as a fine way to close out the year?
My comfort food of choice this year? Fried udon noodles with red peppers and shrimp, all slathered in a spicy peanut sauce. It's simple. It's filling. It's addictive and satisfying in a totally carby-fatty way that will have you planning your resolutions for the next day.
FRIED UDON NOODLES WITH SHRIMP AND SPICY PEANUT SAUCE
Start to finish: 20 minutes
1 cup natural peanut butter
1-inch chunk fresh ginger
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Hot sauce, to taste
4 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 large red bell peppers, cored and thinly sliced
8-ounce package udon noodles
1 pound shelled raw shrimp, patted dry
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
2 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.
While the water heats, in a blender combine the peanut butter, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, water, garlic and black pepper. Blend until smooth. The peanut sauce should be thick, but pourable. If the sauce is too thick, add a couple tablespoons of additional water and blend again. Taste, then add hot sauce to your desired heat preference, blending again. Set aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion and peppers, then cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Reserve the skillet.
Add the udon noodles to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes, or until just barely cooked. The noodles should still be a bit firm. While the noodles cook, return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. Drain the noodles well and add them to the hot skillet. Stir-fry the noodles for 2 minutes.
Add the shrimp to the skillet and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the shrimp are just pink, about 5 minutes. Return the onion and peppers to the skillet and toss until heated. Remove the skillet from the heat, then pour in a liberal amount of peanut sauce (use as much or as little as you prefer), using tongs to toss the ingredients until well coated. Divide between serving plates, then top with peanuts and scallions.
Nutrition information per serving: 960 calories; 520 calories from fat (54 per cent of total calories); 58 g fat (10 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 145 mg cholesterol; 70 g carbohydrate; 11 g fiber; 15 g sugar; 47 g protein; 1,630 mg sodium.
J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch . Email him at email@example.com