It’s a hot summer day. The sky is brilliant blue and birds are singing. July heat. I’m drinking a lot of coconut water mixed with sparkling soda and a squeeze of lime while planting in my garden, hands in the soil. The kids will be home from camp later (and they are always hungry!). I’m too hot (and lazy) to cook anything up tonight. The backyard patio is the place to dine on nights like this, with a big bowl of cold sesame noodles for everyone to share.
Sesame tahini paste, peanut (or cashew) butter, yuzu, lime, chili sambal and garlic make a zesty creamy sauce for these noodles. Add slivered cucumber, shredded red cabbage and carrots, garnish with cilantro as well as other toppings, and you have dinner covered, et voila!
Cold Sesame Noodles
Any kind of noodle can work for this recipe. Typically I use soba or green tea noodles, but Chinese recipes use the traditional Chinese egg noodles for a cold sesame noodle dish like this. However it works for you— I’m sure you won’t mind using that package of “Brown Rice Quinoa Noodles” that’s been waiting for you to make spaghetti with! Any kind of long stick noodle works fine. Then make the creamy sauce, julienne some carrots (or shred them with the food processor, don’t stress) and slice up some cold cucumber, add a few sprigs of cilantro, sprinkle on sesame seeds, any other kinds of veggies, whatever works. No sweat, just cool-as-a-cucumber cold sesame noodles. Add any other veggie and/or protein to this. Chicken or tofu is recommended. I give the option of cashew rather than peanut— I like the creaminess of cashew in the sauce.
1/2 lb. Chinese egg noodles / OR 3 bundles of soba noodles
1⁄4 cup toasted sesame oil
3 1⁄2 tbsp tamari soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp yuzu juice
2 tbsp. sesame tahini paste
2 tbsp. smooth peanut (or cashew) butter
2 1⁄2 tsp. chile-garlic sambal
2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and julienne cut (matchstick size)
1 carrot, peeled and julienne cut (matchstick size)
1 sweet yellow pepper, chopped finely
1/4 head of red cabbage, shredded
1 piece ginger, peeled and finely sliced
7 oz extra firm tofu, cubed (seasoned and baked tofu works great)
Chopped roasted peanuts (or cashews), to garnish (optional)
Cilantro leaves, garnish
Toasted sesame seeds, garnish
**basil and mint also work well as additional greens and give more of a Thai dimension
1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles, and cook until barely tender, about 3-5 minutes depending on your noodles.
2) Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water.
3) Transfer to a bowl and add 3 tbsp. sesame oil and toss until evenly coated. Set aside.
4) In a food processor, blend together remaining sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame tahini paste, peanut (cashew) butter, lime juice, yuzu juice, chili-garlic paste, garlic, scallions, and ginger. Temper the texture of the sauce with additional lime juice, yuzu juice, tamari soy, — even a splash of water— to thin out to desired smooth texture. Taste sauce to make sure there’s enough balance and salty/spice level. The sauce will mellow in flavor once noodles are mixed with them.
5) Pour over noodles, mix evenly and toss until well coated. NOTE: If you have more noodles than you plan to eat or serve, save the extra noodles with sauce on its own for later in the fridge. You can add veggies and toppings when you serve it the following day. If mixed with veggies and especially cucumber, it gets soggy and waterlogged. Save the veggies and sauced noodles separately.
6) Put the mixed cold noodles in a serving bowl and garnish with chopped nuts, scallions, shredded carrot, cucumber, shredded red cabbage, slivers of ginger and cilantro. Basil and mint also make a great green addition to this. Add cubed tofu and chopped sweet yellow peppers. Extra squeezes of lime and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds make it even more delicious.
Turn on some jazz, light a few candles, and sit outside on your patio. Dine alfresco in the warm summer evening with a bowl of cold sesame noodles.