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Recipe: Fuchsia Dunlop’s Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles (with Prawns)

Fuchsia Dunlop's Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles with Prawns

Fuchsia Dunlop’s Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles with Prawns

Convenience isn’t always about using your store cupboard bits and bobs. Convenience, for me, is often about avoiding leaving the house. I know. I live in a big city about 10 minutes walk away from a supermarket and 2 minutes from a reasonably stocked corner shop, but some days I am so deep in cabin fever / cosy / lazy / attached to my pjs, I will do anything to just stay indoors.

So, if I want a sandwich I may delay it so that I can bake the bread. Yes, I do that. Not often, but I do. That is also because I can’t stand the really processed stuff and the bakery is, well, 10 minutes away, but you know, I don’t want to leave the house (and I like baking). Or, if I need peanut butter to cook someone else’s store cupboard supper, I will make it at home rather than walk 2 minutes to the corner shop. The result is a much better peanut butter and the effort is not too great.

If you work from home (all the time, not just occasional days), you will understand this sophisticated form of cabin fever. When working from home I hold myself captive, until it spirals out of control and then I become a little weird and try to arrange everything so that it happens within a few metres of my living room. I need to get an office, with a kitchen, can someone arrange that, please?

Back to that peanut butter. Yesterday was OFM Sunday, and this months issue had a lovely feature on store cupboard suppers. I have several of my own, we all do I am sure, but I was intrigued by Fuschia Dunlop’s Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles, and decided that it would be my next lunch. But I had no peanut butter. No matter, I did have lovely blanched peanuts which I roasted until a lovely light brown and fragrant, which I then threw in my food processor with a generous pinch of salt, and whizzed until I had a paste. Pure, unadulterated, joyous peanut paste, or perfect peanut butter. At this point you could add oil to lengthen it or sugar to sweeten, but for me this is perfect, and exactly what I want.

Fuchsia uses Clearspring dried udon, happily I have those in my store cupboard too. I made just a few changes, adding prawns and coriander leaves, as I had them, and sherry vinegar instead of the Chinkiang (I have a lovely sherry vinegar which I bought in Spain, which has a similar richness). I also briefly sautéed the garlic to take the sharp edge off.

The recipe follows, I have adapted it as above, and for one person.

(If you aren’t aware of Fuchsia Dunlop already, she is the author of several wonderful books. I particularly recommend her beautiful and informative memoir, Shark’s Fin & Sichuan Pepper).

Recipe: Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles with Prawns

Serves 1

1 heaped tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp Chinese chilli oil (with lots of the tasty bits)
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp water
125g dried udon noodles
flavourless oil to sauté the garlic and prawns
8 large prawns, raw are best as you can cook them just so, as they should be

To finish
1 tsp white sesame seeds
1 spring onion, finely sliced


Toast the sesame seeds in a dry wok or frying pan, over a gentle heat, until golden. Set aside.

Sauté the garlic in a tsp of hot oil for one minute. In a bowl, use a spoon to mash the peanut butter with the soy sauces and vinegar until evenly mixed. Stir in the chilli and sesame oils and the garlic, with enough stock or water to give the sauce the consistency of single cream.

Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet. When the noodles are almost cooked, cook your prawns for a couple of minutes until just pink.

Drain the noodles well and add the sauce, mixing well. Sprinkle with the cooked prawns, spring onion greens and toasted sesame seeds. Mix everything in, and eat.

Thank you Fuchsia!




  1. That’s a fab recipe. I’m going to cooking for one as of September and should have most of those ingredients to hand, so this will make a perfect addition to my soon-to-exist recipe book for one!


    • Enjoy – I will be eating this again for sure :) Cooking for one shouldn’t be a chore, I can’t understand when people say it is. I do it all the time!

  2. Yum, this sounds fantastic! I’ll try it.
    Definitely agree with the addition of coriander (I like sth fresh and herby to lift things up a little), and can take or leave the prawns. Sounds like firm tofu or chicken could also work. And many veg! ….. Ok, I’m getting a bit excited now…. :)
    I’m a big fan of Fuchsia, and have all her books bar the memoir (thought I have read it). Have you used the latest one, Every Grain of Rice? It’s probably my most -cooked-from book! I made at least 30 dishes from there, and love it!

    • Thanks Ana! Enjoy :) I think tofu or chicken would be great too. Also a fish like salmon?

      I don’t have Every Grain of Rice yet but really must get it. I have heard very good things.

  3. That looks delicious. I especially love the addition of peanut butter and garlic, but … I love the other ingredients, too. I would be happy, if I could work from home. Now with the temperatures dropping I am not so keen on leaving the house either.

    • Chris, working from home is misunderstood. A day here and there is amazing, and even a week once in a while. Even the least sociable of us needs to see people occasionally. I find it quite unhealthy, in truth, but a necessary evil right now.

      I think the Oatmeal covered it well :)

  4. I love these ingredients and I bet they make a delicious dish. It’s a bit like satay spaghetti, with the nuts an chili and soy sauce etc.
    And I love your definition of convenience food. For so many people it’s all about LEAVING the house to go to some takeaway or fast food place – your version is so much better :)

  5. Also saw that store cupboard piece – a host of good ideas, I thought. I put the noodle recipe on the to do list and cooked Anissa Helou’s carrot and lentil recipe. Great to see your version. Lovely stuff.

    • I also want to try Anissa’s one, Ed! Looked lovely. We all cook from our store cupboards, so it is interesting to look into someone elses, isn’t it? :)

  6. I just saw this recipe on OFM and added it to my to-do list. This looks like a lovely adaptation, I was wondering whether to venture to an Asian supermarket for the vinegar, glad to see sherry vinegar does just as well.

    • It worked for me! I adore the black vinegar and would have used it if I had any in my cupboard, mind.

  7. Nice recipe. I remember the joy when I “discovered” that peanut butter+chicken stock+chilli= satay, sort of!

  8. Goose says

    Nice and simple, also liking the use of sherry vinegar, I recall Ken Hom commenting on vinegar substitutes, must get the book out. I think, this week ,this is tried.
    Another cool post

  9. I love anything noodly with peanut butter. I’ve had a peanut-y sauce with udon noodles before and they go so well together. Will definitely be trying this one. I would say ‘when I want to make a store cupboard recipe’ but to be honest most of the meals I cook end up being that!

  10. Lovely looking recipe Niamh. To be honest, I also need to plow through the cupboard and use up some bits and pieces before thinking about heading out to the shops in my pyjamas.

  11. I had to laugh at your introduction. You could have written that about me – down to the making your own bread instead of venturing out. As for Fuschia’s nutty noodles, my daughter ‘invented’ something similar many years ago when she was about 12, and we have enjoyed it ever since. It must taste especially fab with freshly roasted peanuts ground to an unctuous aromatic paste. Must try that tweak, even if I have my proper clothes on ;-)

  12. SallyC says

    I have every single one of these ingredients and prawns were already on the menu for supper tonight, as Darling Husband out, and I’m treating myself to a slap up meal for one. Excellent timing! Thanks Niamh :-)

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  15. allanh says

    Sorry to be picky but this recipe does not make it clear how the prawns are cooked – presumably not in with the noodles since you add the prawns to them subsequently? And yet…

    • Hi Allan, they are fried in a little flavourless oil as per the recipe, but just until they are pink and still tender. Apologies if this wasn’t clear.

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  17. I’m checking out all these posts just before I head home from work for dinner and my stomach is rumbling so loudly I’m getting funny looks! This looks amazing – I love prawns and peanut butter!!

Over to you! Your comments - I would love to hear from you :)