Last night I had the pleasure of being a guest chef at the Ted and Amy Supper Club in Fort Greene. The theme was Tiki Summer Feast, so Kara set up long tables in her lovely backyard for the 12 guests and cranked up some tiki lounge music. I did a variety of shareable plates, including hoisin wings, Chinese barbecued ribs, and potstickers filled with shredded braised duck leg (which turned out to be a huge favorite!)
The meatless dish I served was a big bowl of cold sesame noodles, which also got emptied pretty quickly. I first blogged about these noodles last summer and have made them every few weeks since. A quick dish that requires minimal cooking (just boiling the pasta), it's a lifesaver during dinner parties, when the oven and stove top are needed for everything else. But it's also a filling and tasty dinner for one or two people.
Since there's no end in sight for hot, sticky weather, I thought I would re-share this for your summer night meals, in or out of doors. If you're not vegetarian and want to fancy it up, try adding some prosciutto, bacon bits...or even shredded duck!
Cold sesame noodles are essential for the summer. They make great picnic food. They make great sides for cookouts. They are the same savory-sweet kind you get from the Chinese takeout, with less grease and no MSG. And they require very little prep time and don't even have to be reheated out of the fridge (within a reasonable number of days, of course.)
For the noodles themselves, I like to use Chinese egg noodles, soba, or spaghetti. They should be round, not too thin or too thick (the width of a spaghetti strang is perfect.) I find that regular all-wheat Chinese noodles are usually too spongey for this sauce, rendering the dish into somewhat of a gloppy mess. Same with rice noodles. Egg noodles, soba, or spaghetti hold their firmness the best, and allow the sauce to coat the noodles instead of seeping in.
I also like to sauté my garlic and ginger just a little, before tossing it in with the sauce. I'd rather have fragrant garlic and ginger instead of raw, and that extra step of sautéeing for 30 seconds makes a huge difference.
(Check out my new book The Chinese Takeout Cookbook for many more Chinese restaurant favorites!)
Cold Sesame Noodles
Serves 4 to 6
- 12 ounces dried spaghetti or Chinese egg noodles
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 1 cucumber, peeled and julienned
- 2 carrot, peeled and julienned
- 2 teaspoons white sesame seeds
- 2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste (or 3 tablespoons tahini with an extra teaspoon of sesame oil)
- 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons chili paste
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper (optional)
- Bring a pot of water to boil and cook egg noodles or spaghetti until al dente, or the minimum amount of time according to package instructions. Drain immediately, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Toss with 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil and set aside.
- Heat the other tablespoon of peanut oil in a small pan over medium heat. Gently cook the minced garlic and grated ginger until just fragrant, about 30 to 40 seconds. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Prepare the sauce: In a medium bowl, combine the sesame paste, peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, chili paste, sugar, and optional Sichuan pepper. Add 3 tablespoons of water and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the cooked garlic and ginger.
- Pour the sauce over the noodles, add the cucumbers and carrots, and toss. Transfer to large bowl or deep serving dish and sprinkle the sesame seeds and scallions on top. You can serve the sesame noodles at room temperature or chill in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours before serving.
Note: Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days.