Sesame noodles are one of those dishes that can be amazing but more often than not tastes like someone took Government Issue peanut butter
heated it up and dumped it on over cooked noodles of some indistinguishable origin. I remember both the first time that I had terrible ones and the first time that I had really fresh, nutty, and strangely crisp tasting noodles. Right after I graduated college I worked on a theatre festival in Seattle’s China town. Right across from the theatre that was hosting the festival was a true neighborhood Chinese restaurant where I began to foster my obsession with pork stuffed steam buns and cold sesame noodle salad. Admittedly, this was partially financially driven, because I could get 3 large pork buns for 5 dollars, and the helping of sesame noodles was huge for around the same price. The accuracy of the taste that my memory had of those noodles came into question over time due to the fact that I couldn’t seem to recreate them nor find them exactly the way that I wanted them. Maybe I had made them up. The good news is that even a mediocre batch of sesame noodles is still quite edible. The better food news? The combination of Mark Bittman’s recipe for the noodles and David Chang’s Scallion and Ginger Sauce created the fresh, nutty, slightly creamy, eat them until your belly is too full, taste and sensation I was looking for. I eat these warm, as in just above room temperature and I find that the cold leftovers are not only easy to transport, cheap to make, keep well, but also taste equally delicious as their warm counterparts.
Sesame Noodles with Scallion Ginger Sauce
Courtesy of Bittman and Chang
This entire recipe will take you less than the amount of time it takes to boil the water and cook the noodles.
12 ounces fresh Chinese egg noodles, (or dry Chinese egg noodles, I like the curly ramen ones, the japanese ones are nice too)
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
½ cup tahini
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons hot sesame oil (optional, and to taste)
1 medium cucumber, seeded and grated
Bring a pot of water to a boil and then salt it generously.
In a bowl large enough for the sauce and noodles whisk together all the ingredients except for the cucumber. The sauce should be the consistency of heavy cream, add warm water as necessary, I find I need about ¼ cup to loosen it up. Stir the grated cucumber into the sauce.
Cook the noodles until tender but not mushy, only about 4 minutes even for the dried noodles. When the pasta is ready drain it and rinse it until warm water. Add the warmish noodles to the sauce and toss until evenly coated. Top with the scallion and ginger sauce.
Scallion and Ginger Sauce
2 ½ cups thinly sliced scallion
½ cup finely minced ginger
¼ cup grapeseed (any neutral oil will do)
1 ½ teaspoon light soy
¾ teaspoon Sherry vinegar
¾ teaspoon salt
Mix everything in a bowl and let sit for 15 minutes before using.
I find that if you add two tablespoon of this to 1/2 cup soy sauce and 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil with 2 tablespoons rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon sugar you have an instant dipping sauce and salad dressing. I sometimes also drizzle this sauce over the Roasted Rice Cakes with Korean Red Dragon Sauce because I’m fancy like that.