This simple recipe filled with salty, sweet, and nutty flavors is perfect for both a quick weeknight meal and to feed a big crowd.
This peanut-sesame noodles and chicken / tofu satays recipe is sure to be a crowd pleaser. I know because I’ve cooked it for 50 more than once.
During my senior year of college, I lived in a co-op where we all took turns cooking dinner for the house. One of my favorite parts of the experience was creating a menu that would satisfy a whole list of requirements:
- Can it be made in mass quantity and still taste good?
- Can some items be prepared ahead of time?
- Is there a vegetarian option that’s similar enough to the original dish?
As a self-proclaimed nerd, I took great pleasure in figuring all of this out. These peanut-sesame noodles and satays definitely checked the boxes and then some.
First, people love peanut-sesame sauce. It’s salty, sweet, and nutty all at the same time. We triple its usage by not only using it to dress the noodles but also as a marinade and a dipping sauce for the chicken / tofu satays.
Secondly, “satays” just sounds exotic, even though it’s just protein served on a stick with a sauce. I have learned from years of feeding people though that people love eating things off a stick, so when it doubt, put a skewer through it.
The reasons this recipe works for a crowd are the same reasons it works really well for an efficient weeknight dinner. Prep is minimal. As for timing, the noodles can be served at room temperature or cold, so they can be made ahead of time; the proteins can be pre-grilled and then finished off in an oven shortly before dinner time. So whether you’re serving 50 or just 2, rest assured that you will have a stress-free and delicious dinner.
- This recipe is great for any kind of protein, such as chicken and tofu. Learn how to properly prep these proteins with these videos:
How to Season & Tenderize Proteins with a Fork
Maximize flavor and tenderize proteins with this little trick.
How to Prepare Tofu
Learn how to prep and cook tofu the right way with this short video.
- Chopping vegetables ahead of time can save you a lot of time when it’s time to cook. Especially if you’re cooking for a crowd! For this recipe, I like the crunch of bell peppers and cucumbers:
How to Slice Bell Peppers
Watch this video to learn how to slice bell peppers.
How to Julienne Cucumbers
Learn how julienne cucumbers - cut them into little matchsticks.
- Saucepan – for cooking the pasta
- Grill pan – this large one can fit over two stove burners and is great for grilling many satays at one time; but if you want something smaller, try this grill pan
- Sheet pan – the grill pan helps to get that initial sear, and then the proteins get finished in the oven, which is where this sheet pan comes in handy
For more kitchen and equipment and tool smarts, visit our Essential Kitchen Cookware and Tools
- Pasta, spaghetti or linguine - 1/2 lb
- Peanut butter - 1/2 cup
- Soy sauce - 3 Tbsp
- Rice vinegar - 2 Tbsp
- Toasted sesame oil - 1 Tbsp
- Sweetener (such as sugar, brown sugar, honey) - 3 Tbsp
- Warm water - 1/4 cup
- Red peppers – 2, sliced
- Cucumbers (Persian or English) – 2, sliced
- Green onions - 1 bunch, sliced
- Peanuts - 1/4 Tbsp (optional)
- Chicken thighs, boneless and skinless, or firm tofu - 1 lb
- Skewers (optional) - 8 to 12 (optional)
- Cooking oil – 1 Tbsp
- Sauce from noodles - 1/4 cup
- Cook pasta – Bring a saucepan of water to boil. Salt generously and add pasta. Cook until al dente, tender but not soggy. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead)
- If using chicken – Slice in half lengthwise. Season with salt & pepper and tenderize with a fork. (Can be done up to 1 day ahead)
- If using tofu – If tofu is packed in water, press out liquid first. Then slice into 1/2” thick slices. (Can be done 1 day ahead)
- Make peanut-sesame sauce – Mix together peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sweetener, and warm water. Separate out about 1/4 cup of the sauce for the protein. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Red peppers / Cucumbers / Green onions – Prep as directed. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Thread chicken / tofu with skewers (if using). Brush protein with 1/4 cup of reserved peanut-sesame sauce on both sides.
- If grilling first, heat up a grill pan over medium-high heat, add cooking oil, and grill satays on each side for 2 minutes. Transfer onto a sheet pan and bake for 8 to 12 minutes. If not grilling first, just set satays onto the sheet pan, and bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes
- Toss noodles with as much of the remaining sauce and sliced vegetables as you want. Garnish with peanuts. Any leftover sauce can be used as a dipping sauce for the satays!
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