Spicy, Peanutty Udon with Kale

By • January 21, 2014 35 Comments

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Author Notes: An exceedingly simple but truly delicious quick meal, with possibilities for variation galore (more Sriracha! more peanut butter! different greens!). To make it vegetarian/vegan, omit the fish sauce.Laura

Food52 Review: WHO: Laura is just as excited about dark, leafy greens as we are.
WHAT: A noodle dish so simple and slurp-worthy, you’ll have to stop yourself from making it every night.
HOW: Make a savory sauce and round it out with everyone’s favorite sandwich spread (peanut butter!). Use the sauce to sauté greens and cooked noodles, then top with scallions, chili flakes, and chopped peanuts for more crunch and spice.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Big flavor need not require big effort. This peanut sauce turns to your pantry’s most potent players (sesame oil, soy sauce, Sriracha, fish sauce, and peanut butter) to make a powerful sauce in 30 seconds flat. Play with the ingredients to find the combination that’s right for you, then use it to make noodles and greens infinitely more exciting.
The Editors

Serves 1, but easily doubled or tripled

  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1/8 teaspoon fish sauce, plus an extra dash at the end
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (any type)
  • 3 ounces udon or soba noodles
  • 1/2 bunch kale, deribbed and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces (1 packed cup)
  • Chopped scallions, for serving
  • Chili flakes, for serving
  • Chopped peanuts, for serving
  1. Heat 1 quart of water in a saucepan to boil.
  2. In a sauté pan over low or medium-low heat, add sesame oil, soy sauce or tamari, Sriracha, and fish sauce. Stir ingredients or rotate pan to combine and let cook for about 30 seconds. Add peanut butter, stir to combine, then turn off heat.
  3. When water is boiling, blanch kale for about 15 seconds. Drain the kale and add it to the sauce in the sauté pan and stir to coat.
  4. Bring clean water to boil. When the water is boiling, add the noodles and cook until al dente. Fresh noodles will cook very quickly; dry noodles will cook in 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Use tongs to add the noodles straight from the water to the sauté pan with the peanut sauce and the kale. The unstrained noodles will carry enough water to dilute the peanut sauce; if you decide to strain the noodles and then add them to the sauce, add 1 tablespoon water, as well. Add a dash of fish sauce to finish.
  6. Garnish with chopped scallions, chili flakes, and chopped peanuts.

More Great Recipes: Rice & Grains|Vegetables|Entrees|Kale|Fish

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Comments (35) Questions (0)


4 months ago Sharon Hanna

I meant to say - I added the greens when there was about two minutes left to go - my buckwheat soba noodles take about 6 and a half minutes to be done. Also some chopped walking onions from the garden but you could use chives or garlic chives!


4 months ago Sharon Hanna

I added kale buds and tender stems (chopped) to the udon cooking water - used organic buckwheat noodles. Added a bit of grated fresh ginger. Saved some of the cooking water to thin the sauce a little - it was almost like DanDan noodles minus the pork ;-) Very good! THANKS....


7 months ago sususkitchen

Round 2, this time I made it for my husband. Great for those who are super busy.
A keeper!


7 months ago sususkitchen

Rey: get creative and cut back the peanut butter
Food52: I give this a 5 noodles, fabuloso.


7 months ago Marcy Helm

Re: fish sauce, solution I learned in a Thai vegetarian cooking class is to use a mushroom soy sauce (available in Asian markets in the SF Bay Area). Has an earthy fragrance and works as a sub - or as noted, leave it out.


7 months ago Merry

So interested to see the comment on mushroom soy sauce since I just ran across a recipe that calls for it. I knew Whole Foods was a long shot, but checked there this morning; will try Yes! next or ultimately H Mart (we are in the DC area). Very curious to experience the taste.


8 months ago Natalie Bullion

Yum!! I added poached chicken from a slow cooker recipe on this site, and this was fantastic. I will make this again for sure. Also added a squeeze of lime when served.


8 months ago EmilyC

This was my first dish of the New Year. Really nice flavor and love the ease of preparation! Will definitely make again.


9 months ago Merry

OMG, this is a perfectly balanced recipe! We have made it twice now and triple everything so we have lots of leftovers. Truly love the combination of flavors - thanks for a lovely addition to our numerous kale recipes.!


9 months ago plainhomecook

Hah - well done - you tricked my husband into enjoying kale!


10 months ago fistsize

this hit the spot! thanks for this great recipe.


10 months ago jnero

Made this last night, so good I made a second batch to take to work for lunch! YUM


11 months ago Besma

Hi Laura,

Thanks for this recipe! It's going to quickly become my new go-to meal when I don't have much time in the kitchen!

Besma (www.curiouslyconscious...)


11 months ago cream cheese

I made this two nights ago and promptly HAD to make it again. Skipped the noodles though. First time poured the sauce over 8 oz. defrosted frozen broccoli (don't judge - I was starving and it was the fasted thing I could prepare). Second time, roughly 10 minutes ago, doubled the sauce and made a full bunch of kale (again, no noodles) that I didn't trouble myself with deribbing. Added minced ginger. Very happy. Chomp chomp.


12 months ago Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I had this last night for dinner. Fantastic!! I used cashew butter and cashews because I had both. Loved it. I also used Martha Stewart's one pot pasta method and it worked great.


12 months ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I have one night a week when I'm cooking only for me. This was the solution last week. I didn't read the recipe well and just threw in the kale, uncooked. That wasn't the best idea. The recipe is fantastic and I want that spicy sauce on everything now.


12 months ago Michelle Trim

I didn't have time to look up the recipe again and so my version was partially from memory and partially inspiration. I made this for 2 adults, and used approx 6oz of SOBA noodles. I combined 2 TBS peanut butter, 1 TBS oyster sauce, 1 TBS brown sugar, 2 TBS low sodium soy sauce, 2 TSP grated ginger. Then, I sauteed 3 thinly sliced scallions, 1 minced garlic clove, and the kale in EVOO (didn't have any sesame) until toasty and a little brown. I mixed in the peanut butter mixture and then used tongs to transfer the wet noodles as suggested. We used a mixture of chopped hungarian hot peppers and pepper flakes because the peppers needed used, but I think pepper flakes alone would be good too. The entire thing was amazing. Thanks for the inspiration!


12 months ago Michelle Trim

And 1 TBS rice vinegar... forgot that in my list above!


12 months ago Rey Compañeros

I was pretty excited about this dish.... I had all the ingredients and was really looking forward to quickness of the whole thing. That said, it saddens me greatly that his was the first F 52 dish that I really felt ambivalent about. Maybe it's me...maybe it's too much peanut butter. Perhaps another time this will work for me. Regardless...thanks.


8 months ago HRH

I thought it was a little heavy on the peanut butter, too. But, with some extra veg thrown in and a little extra water, it still turned out pretty awesome. I also added garlic and ginger. We don't make anything in this house without garlic, it seems.


12 months ago jlriddell

This is a great way to make kale luscious. BTW, a serving of any noodles is 2 oz. or 56 g, which is plenty in this case since the k makes it every hearty. I might add a little sugar to the sauce next time too..adding to my For One Collection.


12 months ago EmilyC

Excited to try this -- finally! It's been on my "to try soon" list for awhile now. Congrats on the WC!


12 months ago Rebecca Aynsley

This looks amazing! What can I substitute for kale? I live in Japan and it hasn't caught on here yet. Thanks!


12 months ago CarlaCooks

I am going to try this with Swiss chard. I assume any dark leaf would work, maybe even spinach (though you wouldn't need to blanch the spinach).