Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I made Cold Sesame Noodles!

This is another recipe that I made quite a few months ago. Even though the leftovers are long gone, I do remember quite clearly where the inspiration to make these noodles
came from.

It was a Wednesday back in the winter at one of Nick+Faryl's wonderful "LOST"-watching parties, and we had ordered Chinese food. We'd gotten into the habit of doing a "blind vote" to determine what kind of food (pizza or Chinese) to order for dinner. A blind vote is conducted as follows: everyone closes their eyes except for one person, the "leader" of the blind vote. The leader then poses the two sides for voting - "Who wants pizza?" - and then all in favor quietly raise their hands, with no fear of judgment by others or any chance of outside influence on their choice. The leader silently counts up the votes and continues - "Who wants Chinese?"

Once the vote is done, we open our eyes and the leader announces the verdict. It's pretty thrilling, if I do say so myself. (This is obviously a pretty scientific process for just figuring out what to eat for dinner, but hey, we take dinner pretty seriously.) Try it next time you're with a large group and you need to make a decision!

In any case, on this particular night, the blind voters had selected Chinese, and I was eating a plate containing some of the best Cold Sesame Noodles I think I have ever had. I don't quite know exactly what made these noodles so satisfying and delicious, but at that moment, they were really hitting the spot. Chewy noodles, slightly spicy and sweet sauce, not too oily. I have never really been a cold sesame noodles kinda gal, but something must have changed, because the next day, I was still thinking about those noodles! Instead of taking the subway back up to the Upper West Side, I decided to try to make my own. I did some searching around on the internet and turns out that a bunch of internet cooks were raving about Tyler Florence's recipe. So I made it! This is how:

Cold Sesame Noodles
Tyler Florence

* 1/2 pound Chinese egg noodles (I used some kind of whole-grain udon noodles I think. They work too. But egg noodles are what they used in those awesome Lost-night cold sesame noodles.)
* 3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
* 2 tablespoons peanut oil (I didn't have, used olive or canola oil probably?)
* 2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
* 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 teaspoon red chili paste, such as sambal oelek
* 2 tablespoons brown sugar
* 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
* 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
* 3 tablespoons soy sauce
* 6 tablespoons hot water
* 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
* Cucumber slices, for garnish ( I used thin slices of red bell pepper.)
* Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish


Cook the noodles in large pot of boiling unsalted water over medium heat until barely tender and still firm. Drain immediately and rinse with cold water until cool. Drain the noodles really well and transfer to a wide bowl; toss with the sesame oil so they don't stick together. (Or if you're using different noodles, just follow the directions for preparing those.)

In a small saucepan, heat the peanut oil over medium-low flame. Add the green onions, ginger, garlic, and chili paste. Cook and stir for a minute until soft and fragrant. Mix in the brown sugar, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, and hot water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the peanut butter has smoothed out. Toss the noodles with the peanut sauce until well coated. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Garnish with the sesame seeds, cucumber slices, and cilantro (and red pepper if using). (You can also thin out the sauce with a bit more water if it seems too thick.)

These are actually even better if you let the sauce chill overnight. The flavors really do "mesh" when given some time to mingle.


  1. Reading this makes me want to cook it! Unfortunately, it will have to wait until my nut-allergic subletter leaves in August...

  2. Very true. Well, if I make them again before then, I'll invite you over!

  3. You can try swapping in sesame paste for the peanut butter and upping the sugar.