Cold sesame noodles?
On another board, someone posted his grad-school cheapo recipe using ramen noodles and peanut butter (it didn't sound that bad, by the way) and reminded me that I haven't had this in ages, and don't have a good recipe for it. (And don't have any good Chinese restaurant where I now live, either.) I'm long past grad school, and would like to have a really good version.
Anyone have any suggestions?
Here is a terrific & authentic recipe from the New York Times:
Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles
1 pound Chinese egg noodles (1/8,-inch-thick), frozen or (preferably) fresh, available in Asian markets
2 tablespoons sesame oil, plus a splash
3½ tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons chili-garlic paste, or to taste
Half a cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/8,-by- 1/8,-by-2-inch sticks
¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts.
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until barely tender, about 5 minutes; they should retain a hint of chewiness. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and toss with a splash of sesame oil.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame paste, peanut butter, sugar, ginger, garlic and chili-garlic paste.
3. Pour the sauce over the noodles and toss. Transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with cucumber and peanuts.
My only additional comments would be that:
-Don't mix the sauce with the noodles until you are ready to eat, because the dish does get dry, with the noodles sucking up the sauce.
-I make double or triple quantities in the food processor, and freeze in a single plastic container. The sauce does not freeze solid, and it is fairly easy to scoop out what you need later on--sometimes I will nuke for 10 sec. or so to make it easier.
-One of my favorite combos, to make a dinner entree, is to cut up leftover chicken and some (steamed) asparagus spears. Mix noodles and sauce in large bowl, topped with chicken, asparagus, some sliced green onion, black sesame seeds (nice contrast and crunchiness). Yum. Great on a hot summer evening.
-I always used the cheap dried Chinese noodles that came in various widths, in a 2 or 3 lb. box from a bakery in Chicago, IIRC.
Have fun. p.j.
I've always made large quantities, so don't have a clue about the amount of pasta to use. I have enough of the ingredients so that I can (and do) keep adding until I get it right. Then of course, I have to taste it later on since after awhile I can't tell anymore whether I like it. Also, the flavors blend when you let it sit, and the pasta does absorb some of the liquid. If you are cooking for vegetarians, use vegetable broth instead of chicken. I think one of the common problems with this dish is that it's often too dry. Make sure you use enough Asian sesame oil as this adds great flavor to it.
DanaB: I followed your link -- thank you -- and the recipe looks about right. What quantity of noodles does the sauce cover? 12 oz.? 1 lb.? (I'm with BRN on the subject of peanut butter in sesame noodles, although I do love pb. Just not for this.) Also, would you use soba? Or Chinese egg noodles? When I've had it in restaurants the noodles were spaghetti-shaped and I suspect they may have been soba, but I don't really know from Chinese egg noodles except that I seem to recall them as flatter.
Any more advice?
i'm not a fan of chinese egg noodles, and prefer soba for this. i suppose a whole wheat spaghetti would work, if you can't find buckwheat noodles. i also thin the sauce with cooking water from the noodles.
julienne of carrot, cucumber, scallions, sometimes even radish on top. i like the crunchy contrast.
I make cold sesame noodles. I used peanut butter once and found it to be too "gloppy" and didn't cover the noodles as well as tahini. I use chicken broth, soya sauce (be careful, don't use too much) toasted sesame seeds, scallions, Asian sesame oil, garlic, and if you want it spicy use some crushed red peppers. I will look for roasted Chinese sesame paste. Never heard of it, but we have a few Asian stores in our neighborhood, so it shouldn't be hard to find.
Oooo, yummy I'm going to try Browniebaker's version.
I make a really similar one and I like mine with steamed broccoli and sauteed red bell peppers, and then I sautee some garlic and ginger to add at the end :) I like to use bow ties... they really lap up the sauce to my satisfaction.
My version, passed on from my friend Katie:
I make sesame noodles with a pound of bow ties usually and I keep running back to the fridge for more and more... I've been using a recipe that is 4 Tbsp Tahini, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 5 Tbsp mirin or rice vinegar, 1/2 tsp Aleppo or other hot chile, 1/4 to 1/3 cup tamari, 4 Tbsp hot water, 6 Tbsp sesame oil. Steam a head of broccoli and sautee up a red bell pepper; cook pasta al dente.
Mix all dressing ingreds and add to the hot pasta and the veggies. Don't forget 2 cloves garlic and 2 Tbsp ginger sauteed at the end in a little peanut oil, and sprinkle on some sesame seeds toasted or not at the end.
The two most important things are using Chinese Egg Noodles. They keep in the freezer beautifully and make a world of difference.
The second is to use the Chinese Roasted Sesame Paste, and not Tahini, which gives the dish a bizarre Middle Eastern flavor instead of Chinese.
Peanut Butter is not what is usually used, but chopped peanuts can be used as a garnish.
This is an essential dish. There are lots of recipes, but after trying 3 or 4 I just wing it. Sooner or later you'll find the recipe you like. The essential ingredients, besides your favorite noodle (doesn't need to be ramen) are peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, vinegar (even cider or white will do), garlic, and hot sauce (or cayenne). And ginger if you have it, and chicken stock if you like a soupier dish. Chopped chives and/or sesame seeds on top are a nice touch.
The ATK recipe looks like an excellent place to start.
I like the sauce from America's Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated:
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through
garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 piece (1-inch) fresh ginger, grated or minced (about
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon hot sauce (they say Tabasco, I use Sriracha, and I use probably about 2 t)
2 tablespoons lightly packed light brown sugar
(paraphrase) Lightly toast the sesame seeds. Reserve a tablespoonfull and add everything else to a blender or food processor and process, and then drizzle in hot water slowly until it gets to the consistency you like (I've found that this is anywhere from 4 to 6 T). Add the sesame seeds to the sauce afterwards, and toss with the noodles of your choice (I've used everything from udon noodes to regular spaghetti noodles). I love this with thinly sliced cucumber and red bell pepper.
The best version I've ever had was from Best American Side Dishes (I think that's the title) from the folks at America's Test Kitchen / Cook's Illustrated.
IIRC the key is lots of grated carrots and chopped green onions, which balances the heaviness of the peanut butter. Otherwise, yeah - smooth peanut butter, garlic, ginger, chilies, soy sauce, sesame oil and vinegar; I don't remember proportions.
See if you can hunt up the ATK version; it's really great.
1 SMALL glop of peanut butter (I know, "what's a glop"? A glop is maybe 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons, but who has time to measure?)
1 Tb balsamic vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder or (better) Indian garlic puree
Dash of soy sauce
Something spicy (squirt of Sriracha, chili oil, chili paste)
Sugar to taste (I like it moderately sweet - heaven help me, Equal works fine)
Cook ramen 4 minutes, rinse w cold water, drain very well - toss in the sauce and sprinkle with thin-sliced scallion and/or fresh bean sprouts
I use this sauce as a starting point.
1/3-cup sesame paste*
3 T soy sauce
3 T vinegar
2 T sugar
3 T hot water
1 T sesame oil
2 cloves garlic
1 T chili oil
1 t dried chili peppers, broken up
In the jar of a blender, put the garlic and scallions. Blend until minced. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Be aware that the spiciness will increase somewhat.
*Sesame paste is available in Asian grocery stores. It is different from tahini in that the sesame seeds are toasted so that it is darker in color. I get Lan Chi brand.
This sauce recipe will keep for a long time in the refrigerator. If it is too thick when you go to use it again just add a little hot water to thin it.
Are you looking for precise quantities? It's a pleasantly imprecise & flexible dish, I find.
I like to douse cooked egg noodles in tahini diluted with a little lemon juice - just enough to cover noodles evenly without pools of sauce at the bottom.
Toss with julienned ham and cucumber (peeled, seeds removed), and shredded chicken. Julienned carrots, thin strips of omelette and bean sprouts also work.
Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and a few sprigs of coriander.