My wife and I have been eating cold sesame noodles since one of our earliest dates. Her family did not eat a lot of Chinese food and I had to convince her that there was more to Chinese cuisine than chicken chow mein (is that even on the menu anymore?). Cold sesame noodles was one of the first things I ordered to make my case. Needless to say, she was very impressed with my selection (maybe that is why she married me?) and it is still a well loved dish in our house (that means everyone likes it…a good thing).
Cold Sesame Noodles has a great many merits: It is fast and easy to prepare with things we have in the pantry or fridge; it is a great way to use left-over pasta of any sort; it is inexpensive – I don’t use the word cheap because we don’t buy cheap things and good peanut butter and tahini are not inexpensive but you don’t have to use a lot; it is fairly nutritious, sesame has a lot of fiber and vitamins/minerals (nutritional data here); the sauce does not need to be cooked; and most importantly, it is delicious! Cold Sesame Noodles is a great first course or a cold side dish for grilled meat and/or vegetables. It is great for vegetarians and can even be made gluten free if you choose the noodles wisely. This is a very versatile dish which means ingredient substitutions and additions (or omissions) are encouraged based on your likes or what you have on hand; in other words, don’t be afraid to play with this recipe.
One of the easiest things to try is a different kind of pasta. There are a lot of different kinds of pasta out there that we are not used to seeing. There are far more people out there that are either allergic to or sensitive to wheat which is one reason for the improved selection of alimentory (a fancy way of saying noodle that does not contain wheat) products. Anyone who has heard of or eaten Pad Thai is familiar with rice noodles (Pad Thai features rice noodles) but may not be familiar with buckwheat noodles, mung bean noodles or thread bean noodles many of which are available in the supermarket or the Asian market. If you know that you are sensitive to wheat or are preparing food for some one else who is read the package carefully to make sure there is no wheat in the ingredients and that the pasta has been made in a wheat free facility; it will usually say that somewhere on the package and if it does not…don’t trust it. Do try this recipe, it is a great change of pace from the same old pasta dishes.
makes 4 generous side dishes
3 Tbsp peanut butter
1 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp tamari
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp water or chicken stock
1 Tbsp sesame oil
Something spicy (like pepper flakes, cayenne powder, hot sesame oil) to taste or on the side as a condiment
1 clove garlic mashed to a paste
4 cup cooked noodles (I used buckwheat soba noodles, use something new and different to shake things up)
1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted (I like to mix black and white sesame seeds and do toast them in a hot, dry pan for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until they take on a golden hue and give off a nutty aroma. It really helps the flavor) for garnish
2 scallions sliced very thin on an angle for garnish (try making scallion fans for a pretty garnish in addition)
1 cup cucumber juliennes (cucumber should be added right before serving or it will wilt and become mushy)
*Fresh sprouts would make a nice addition to this, if you need a suggestion.
Cook the pasta as directed on the package, don’t assume that all pastas are cooked in the same manner. While the pasta is cooking, mix all of the other ingredients together except for the garnish items (sesame seeds, sliced scallion, cucumber juliennes and anything else you can think of). Once the pasta is cooked cool it under cold running water or dip it into an ice bath. Drain well, toss with the dressing and add the garnishes right before serving. Enjoy.