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story.lead_photo.caption Lo mein noodles tossed in a spicy peanut sauce get an extra boost from tender chunks of chicken. (Gretchen McKay/Post-Gazette/TNS)

I live in a noodle household. Thick, thin, fresh or dried, I probably could eat them every night and never be bored because there are so many sauces and preparations to make them shine.

This spicy, Thai-inspired lo mein is a winner because it comes together in a flash, and is so full of flavor. I make it with creamy peanut butter but you could substitute any nut butter. Boneless chicken breast adds protein, but vegetarians could swap in extra-firm tofu. The noodles also play nicely with shrimp or thin strips of beef.

If the sauce is too thick or peanuty, add a little more vinegar or a couple tablespoons of water. Sambal oelek, an Indonesian chile paste made with hot chilies, salt and vinegar, adds a gentle heat. You may want to taste as you go, adding more or less to achieve the desired spiciness. I'm a chili diehard, so I also like to add a little crunchy garlic with chili oil to both the sauce and on top of the noodles.

CHICKEN LO MEIN WITH SPICY PEANUT SAUCE

PG tested

For sauce

1/3 cup smooth peanut butter

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon honey

1 inch piece of ginger, finely minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 heaping tablespoon sambal oelek

For noodles

12 ounces sliced or cubed boneless chicken breast

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks

1/2 pound red cabbage, sliced thin

2 or 3 scallions, thinly sliced and divided into white bottoms and green tops

8 ounces fresh or dried lo mein noodles

Fill a medium pot about three-quarters full with water, and bring to a boil.

While water is heating, make sauce: In medium bowl, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey, ginger, garlic and sambal oelek.

Add about 1/4 cup water and mix to combine; you can add a little more if you like a thinner sauce. Set aside.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to a large nonstick pan, and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken and sliced carrots in an even layer, and cook 3- 4 minutes without stirring, or until well browned.

Add sliced cabbage and white portion of sliced scallions. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the veggies are softened and the chicken is cooked through.

Add cooked noodles and peanut sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes, or until the noodles are coated and the sauce has thickened.

Remove from heat, and season with a little salt and pepper, if desired.

Serve noodles with sliced green tops of the scallions.

Serves 4.

— Gretchen McKay, Post-Gazette

©2021 PG Publishing Co. Visit at post-gazette.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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