1-inch thick slice fresh ginger, peeled and cut in half
10 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp chili paste with garlic, or more or less to taste
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup soy sauce
7 Tbsp sugar (or equivalent sugar substitute)
7 Tbsp Chinese black vinegar (or Worcestershire sauce)
6 Tbsp toasted sesame oil (the kind you get in Asian groceries — I use Maruhon brand)
10 Tbsp water
4 oz thin soba noodles
2 tsp canola oil
2 cups thinly shredded Napa cabbage
1 small bell pepper (any color), diced
3-4 large mushrooms (any type), sliced
1 large scallion, thinly sliced
In a food processor with a metal blade (or in a blender), finely chop ginger and garlic. Add next 6 ingredients in the order listed, plus 10 tablespoons of water, and process until smooth. The peanut sauce should be the consistency of heavy cream. If too thick, add more water. Set aside.
Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a saucepan. Drop the soba into the water, bring the water back to the boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, until the soba is cooked but not mushy. Drain, rinse under cool water, and drain again. Place in a large mixing bowl.
Heat a wok over high heat. Swirl in the oil, and then all at once add the cabbage, bell pepper, mushrooms and scallion. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes at most; the vegetables should be crunchy. Add them to the bowl with the soba.
Stir in enough peanut sauce to bring the vegetables and noodles together. (Extra peanut sauce will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks.) Serve at room temperature.