The credit for this one goes to Cumin & Coriander. Rarely do I follow a recipe to the letter, but this one seemed an original combination of some of my individually favourite ingredients, so I tried my best to be obedient.
Of course, those who know me know there's no such thing as "enough" garlic, so I went on a spree with it, and the vegetable oil I used for the garlic-chilli dressing was peanut oil since the highlight of the sauce for the pasta was peanut butter (why do things halfway, right?).
Ordinarily, I'd have reached for olive oil (ho-hum) without a second thought but now that the big 3-0 looms large, I alternate between feeling anxious, reckless and blasée. In short, I urgently needed to be surprised, even in a bad way, so peanut oil it was. And a surprise I got indeed!
I'll confess I was prepared for the worst, and was even reluctant to sit down and eat, buying time taking pictures and fussing over my hair, hoping a dingo would come and carry the noodles away. When I finally reminded myself that I'd sought to inflict the surprise on myself in the first place, I grudgingly poked a forkful of spaghetti into my mouth... Whoa! Did I get that right? I had to have a second forkful to believe it! The richness of the peanut butter was unexpectedly welcome, but nonetheless easily offset by the piquancy of the chilli and garlic. Perfecting the balance of sweet+salty+spicy isn't always a given, but I managed to and it was purely divine. And that was when the noodles were already cold! I can't imagine how I'd have gagged in pleasure had I eaten them hot off the stove!
This is definitely a dish that will make repeat appearances on my table! Thanks, Stefanie (if you're reading this)!
Variations: I'm sure asparagus would be just as gag-inducing. Just guessing, though, since this is my very first time making this.
Body count: 7 shrimp in this picture
P.S.: I happened to pair this with my last glass of Retsina from the bottle, and it also turned out to be a pleasant surprise!