This Orange Peanut Chicken Ramen is an easy, delicious dinner option that's loaded with lots of fresh veggies, lean chicken, tender ramen noodles and crunchy stir-fried peanuts. The sweet, gingery Asian sauce ties it all together!
Usually, when testing a recipe, I'm pretty happy when I finally get it right. I'm almost always ready to move on, since I've made it over and over. Not so with this Orange Peanut Chicken Ramen. It's so delicious, I could continue to enjoy it for days on end and not get tired of it!
On top of that, it's easy and fun to make and, if you're short on time right before dinner, most of the components can be prepped ahead. It also makes wonderful leftovers and can be quickly re-warmed in the microwave. See what I mean? What's there not to love?
This Orange Peanut Chicken Ramen recipe was an inspiration from an NYT Cooking email. Their emails share great recipes and have a way of sucking me in. This particular recipe was for spicy chicken sesame noodles. I checked out the recipe and read the reviews. The reviews weren't great, with most readers commenting that the noodles didn't have much flavor except for being WAY too spicy.
I was intrigued by the basic recipe though and decided to come up with my own version. I changed up the steps to make things easier and added garlic, ginger, brown sugar and extra peanuts to the sauce. There were no veggies in the NYT's recipe so I included thinly sliced red onion and mini bell peppers in a variety of hues. Taking a cue from the comments, I cut WAY back on the crushed red pepper (the original recipe called for 1½ tablespoons, yikes!).
What kind of noodles should I use for this recipe?
You might think that's a silly question since the word ramen is in the title. And you would be correct to guess that the answer is ramen. However... there are a number of different types of ramen. Actually, in Japan, there are a multitude of types of ramen noodles; straight, thin, narrow, thick, wavy, wide, flat...
Here in the U.S., it's not quite that complicated. These are the typical choices:
- Instant ramen - is super common and found at almost any grocery store, large or small. It's also known as instant noodle soup and a college student's best friend. Instant ramen noodles come in a small packet along with an envelope of spices/herbs. Instant ramen is super cheap, usually several packets for less than a dollar. It's produced by deep-frying cooked bricks of noodles to dehydrate them. The downside to instant ramen is a high calorie and (often) sodium count. Many brands of instant ramen also contain MSG or tBHQ for flavor enhancement and preservation.
- Instant organic ramen - similar in look and packaging to common instant ramen, instant organic ramen is becoming easier to find and more popular. I pick it up at my local grocery store, Whole Foods and/or online. It's not as dirt cheap as everyday instant ramen as the process of making it, air-drying bricks of par-cooked noodles, is more expensive. The calorie and sodium counts are much lower. Instant organic ramen's taste is closer to authentic Japanese ramen.
- Dried ramen noodles - you may have to go to an Asian market although some larger groceries will carry dried ramen. You can also find it online. Dried ramen noodles that you find here in the U.S., are usually thin, straight noodles. Dried ramen takes longer to cook than instant ramen.
- Fresh ramen noodles - you'll probably need to either go to an Asian market or order these noodles online. They come straight or curly and take a little longer than instant ramen to cook. They're preservative-free, shelf-stable and most of them do not need refrigeration. Fresh ramen noodles take just a few minutes to cook.
So perhaps the question should have read; What kind of ramen should I use for this Orange Peanut Chicken Ramen? The answer is easy - any of them! I've tried all of them and they're all delicious. My personal choice is the organic ramen packets. I like that it's fairly easy to find, cooks quickly and that there aren't a lot of extra ingredients in my noodles.
Are you ready to make an easy, delicious dinner? Make your shopping list and put it on the menu soon! I think you'll find yourself making this one, again and again!
Café Tips for making this Orange Peanut Chicken Ramen
- This recipe calls for ground chicken. You can find ground chicken at most grocery stores in the same area as whole chicken and chicken parts. You can purchase either chicken breast ground chicken or a combination of ground dark and white meat. Either will work in this recipe but I think the combination mix has more flavor and a little more fat which helps keep it from drying out.
- I give a range amount of crushed red pepper in this recipe. We like things with some heat, but not super spicy. A quarter to a half teaspoon is great for us. If you like things with lots of heat, use a bit more. Just go gradually and taste the sauce as you go. You can always add more but you can't take the heat away.
- The recipe calls for dry roasted peanuts. Sometimes I use honey-roasted peanuts for a delicious variation.
- To prep this Orange Peanut Chicken Ramen ahead:
- Combine all sauce ingredients except the oil, peanuts and sesame seeds in a small jar, shake well and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.
- Cook the noodles as directed on the package, Drain well and drizzle lightly with oil. Toss with two forks to coat the noodles with oil. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Cut up the onion and bell peppers and store them in a zippered bag or airtight container in the fridge.
- About 15 minutes before serving time, remove sauce, noodles and veggies from the refrigerator and proceed with the recipe. You'll be done in no time flat!
- Although this Orange Peanut Chicken Ramen is a complete meal, I like to serve a simple cucumber salad on the side. I've included the recipe below but it's optional.
- The recipe calls for the zest and juice of one orange. I had some pretty clementines on hand so I used them as a garnish. You could also use some orange slices or just skip the garnish. I also had fresh basil and cilantro and used them as garnishes, but either one would be delicious on its own.
- See the section above on types of ramen noodles.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear other’s results and ideas for variations.
- 6-10 ounces ramen noodles instant, fresh or dried
- peanut oil for drizzling
- ¼-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar light or dark
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- finely grated zest of 1 medium size orange
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil canola, grapeseed, sunflower, safflower oil)
- ½ cup roasted salted peanuts coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil you could also use avocado, canola, grapeseed, sunflower or safflower oil
- 1 pound ground chicken
- ½ large red onion thinly sliced
- 8-10 multi colored mini bell peppers or 1 medium bell pepper, cut in slivers
- fresh cilantro and/or basil leaves for garnish
- sesame seeds for garnish
Fill a large pot three-quarters full of water and bring to a boil. Add ramen noodles and cook, stirring occasionally. Use the package directions for cooking time as ramen noodles vary, depending on if they're instant, fresh or dried. Rinse with cold water, drain well. Drizzle the ramen lightly with peanut oil. Toss to coat and set aside.
Combine the crushed red pepper, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, orange zest and orange juice in a medium-size, bowl. Set aside.
Combine the peanuts, peanut oil and sesame seeds in a large sauté pan over medium heat until peanuts and sesame seeds turn deep golden brown, stirring occasionally (about 3-4 minutes). Watch the peanuts carefully once they start turning color as you want them golden but not burned.
With a rubber spatula, transfer the peanut mixture to the bowl with the other sauce ingredients, scraping out all of the sauce.
Add 1 tablespoon of peanut oil to the pan and heat over medium heat until hot. Add the ground chicken and break apart the chicken so it covers the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook without turning for 5-7 minutes or until the chicken is lightly golden on the bottom. As it cooks, occasionally break up any larger pieces with a spatula.
When the chicken is golden, flip and stir for 30 seconds. Add the sliced onion and pepper slivers and stir for another minute.
Add the reserved peanut sauce and the ramen noodles and toss with a tongs to coat and evenly distribute everything. Serve warm garnished with fresh herbs and sesame seeds, if desired.
For the cucumber salad, I just slice mini seedless cucumbers and combine with a dressing of equal parts rice vinegar and honey with a pinch of salt and a pinch of crushed red pepper.
See Café Tips above in post for further instructions and tips.
Recipe inspired from New York Times Cooking
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