For years Peanut Noodles has been a crowd favorite, usually ranking just below the world famous Beans & Rice. This backpacking dinner recipe goes on every single guided trip and on most personal trips, especially if I have a prepared batch of sauce already in the fridge.
The sauce has gone through several iterations, getting better each time. It’s worthy of at-home use — we keep a bottle of it in the fridge as a quick-dinner option, usually pairing it with a blackened chicken breast.
This video is helpful, but note that the recipe has been updated.
- Recommended meal weight: 5.7 oz
- Total calories: 796
- Caloric density: 141 calories/ounce
If you have a gluten sensitivity, swap the Top Ramen for Millet and Brown Rice Ramen from Lotus Foods.
Cashews are not critical, but they improve flavor and texture. They can be substituted for raisins or crushed peanuts. Or, use more than one.
Since we first developed this recipe, the sauce has become more involved, now with eight ingredients. The effort is more easily justified by making a large batch, like for a group, a long solo hike, or mixed field/home use. If you need to simplify it (at the expense of flavor), the most critical ingredients are:
- Peanut butter
- Toasted sesame oil (or olive oil, with a big hit to flavor)
- Soy sauce
Per each two-ounce serving of the sauce, use about 0.04 ounces garlic and 0.01 ounces of ginger. A normal postal scale will not register these trace amounts; you need to buy a drug scale or to make a 10-serving batch.
For our guided groups, we don’t add Sriracha chili sauce because some clients object to the spiciness. But we love it. For each 2-ounce serving, add about 0.04 ounces. A field-friendly alternative are red pepper flakes, which are part of the universal spice kit.
While I haven’t personally tried it, an alternative butter (e.g. cashew, almond, or sunflower) would avoid peanut allergy concerns.
Ramen noodles have their own packaging, and I normally leave them that way. The exception is a short solo trip, when at home I may crush up the noodles and re-bag them with the raisins or crushed cashews.
The raisins or crushed cashews are bagged separately and divided in the field.
The sauce should be made at home. Mix all of the listed ingredients, minus the noodles and cashews. I recommend making big batches with a kitchen mixer, unless you want an arm workout.
Carry the sauce into the field in a 4- or 8-oz Nalgene HDPE Container or a 16- or 32-oz Nalgene Wide-Mouth Bottle. Even if you only need one serving, do not attempt to use a 2-oz bottle to save a few grams over the 4-oz or 8-oz size — you will struggle to pour the sauce into it and to clean it later.
- If you prefer smaller noodle pieces to long, stringy ones, crush the noodles before opening the package. But be careful — the package can rip open.
- Remove the MSG-filled “flavor” packet.
- Bring to a boil at least 1.25 cups (10 oz, 300ml) of water.
- Add the Ramen and the cashews, turn off the stove or let it burn out, and let the noodles sit for 5 minutes.
- Add the sauce.
If you use more than the minimum 1.25 cups of water, everything can be added at the very beginning, since the extra water will prevent scorching the ingredients.
To get the sauce out of the bottle, we add water and shake vigorously. A 32-ounce bottle becomes very clean after two or three rounds.
Have questions or an experience with this meal? Leave a comment.
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