Cold Sesame Noodles is a traditional Sichuan dish that seems to have made its way onto almost every Chinese restaurant menu and more than a few buffet or picnic lunch tables around the country. The dish is simple to prepare, inexpensive, and quite tasty. It is also the perfect lunch or dinner on a hot summer day. It's not quite summer yet, but with temperatures in NYC in the low 70's today it was downright balmy. Neither Alex nor I wanted to slave over a hot stove to make a complex dish this evening, so we cooked up some frozen dumplings from Flushing and threw together these noodles. It seemed like the perfect quick and easy Chinese meal for a warm lazy night.
One word of advice when making these noodles is to make sure that your noodles drain pretty well before tossing them in your sauce. We got a little impatient and tossed the noodles into the sauce while the noodles were still fairly wet, so the sauce didn't coat the noodles and stick to them as much as it could or should have. Oops. We also used the wrong kind of noodles (the only noodles we had were Chinese egg noodles, but they were the super thin variety that you use in wonton mee or in pan-fried noodles). I suggested just using spaghetti but Alex wanted to use the Chinese egg noodles. Even with the wrong noodles, it was a really delicious dish. Alex kept dipping his fingers in the sauce and then licking his fingers while I was working on the noodles themselves. He also repeated several times that the sesame sauce was "surprisingly tasty." It didn't occur to me until after we had finished eating that I had forgotten the cucumber matchsticks that I intended to add to the pasta. The next time we make this dish (and for the record there will be a next time), I won't leave the cucumbers out because they give the dish a nice crunch and fresh, cool flavor. Make that I won't leave the cucumbers out intentionally but when it comes down to it I might just forget again. I do that sometimes.
Recipe after the jump!
Cold Sesame Noodles
1 lb fresh thin Chinese egg noodles (you can substitute spaghetti if that's all you have)
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
3 tbsp Chinese sesame paste (you can substitute tahini paste or peanut butter)
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2-1 tbsp sambal
4 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the bias
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
4-inch piece of English cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks, about 1/2 cup (optional)
Cook noodles according to package instructions in boiling salted water. Drain the noodles and shock in ice-cold water. Drain again. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the vinegar, sesame paste, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, and sambal until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add the noodles and toss well to distribute the sauce evenly throughout. Garnish with the scallions, cilantro and cucumber (if desired).
Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.