Cold sesame noodles with crunchy veggies
It's that time of year when I become incredibly sick of rich and heavy foods.
Are you with me? Because I'm in the mood for cold, fresh foods that don't make me want to take a short coma after eating.
I might be the last person on the planet to discover cold sesame noodles. Now that I have, I just can't get enough. You wouldn't think they would be as delicious as they are. I mean, it's just noodles, dressing, and veggies, right?
Well, in my humble opinion, there are a few things that need to happen in order to take cold sesame noodles from good to great.
First, select your noodles with care. You can certainly make these with spaghetti noodles if it's really all you have, but if you take the time to source some good lo mein noodles your mouth will thank you.
Sometimes people call these 'chow mein' noodles, but in my head chow mein noodles are crunchy and lo mein noodles are soft.
I always get so disappointed when I accidentally order chow mein instead of lo mein and I get a plate of vegetables topped with crunchy fried noodly things. Obviously I wanted the pan-fried noodles, right?
Weirdly, the brand of noodles I buy at my local store says 'chow mein' on the label. Perhaps to be intentionally confusing?
Sometimes packages will just say something like "Chinese egg noodles."
Not to oversimplify, but if you find noodles that look sort of like squared off spaghetti and there's something on the package to indicate they are of Chinese origin or style, you're probably good.
These would work perfectly. You might as well stock up while you're at it, because these cold sesame noodles are going to become a weeknight staple.
OKAY. Now that I've spent one thousand years talking about noodles, let's talk about... wait, I still have more to say about the noodles.
Cook them to al dente, then drain and toss them with sesame oil right away. This adds a lot of extra sesame flavor, but it also has a bonus purpose.
If you skip this step, dress your noodles in the sauce, then decide to refrigerate some of them for later as leftovers, the noodles will all stick together in a giant clump. Coating them with a bit of oil means your leftovers will be super tasty. Assuming you have any leftovers, I mean.
As far as the dressing goes, I've fiddled with my own recipe for a while and this is the way I like it. There's both peanut butter and raw tahini in there, so you get the best of both worlds. You can skip the chili-garlic sauce if you can't find it, or if you'd prefer your noodles without a bit of heat.
Please don't decide to mince the ginger and garlic instead of grating it. It messes up the proportions, plus it adds weird chunks to the noodles and doesn't infuse the dressing with the right amount of flavor.
I use one of these microplane grater things and it works like a charm. I find that ginger is easier to grate if you keep it in the freezer. Plus, it lasts way longer in there!
Okay, that's a lot of tips and demands for such a simple recipe... but there you have it. Enjoy, friends!
Cold Sesame Noodles with Crunchy Vegetables
Yields 4 servings
Crunchy vegetables and a creamy dressing make these sesame noodles irresistible!
60 minPrep Time
15 minCook Time
1 hr, 15 Total Time
For the Sauce
-12 ounces lo mein noodles
-2 tablespoons sesame oil
-1 medium red bell pepper
-1 large carrot
-1/2 medium cucumber, peeled
-1 tablespoon toasted or black sesame seeds
-3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
-2 tablespoons peanut butter
-1 tablespoon raw tahini
-1 tablespoon rice vinegar
-1 tablespoon sesame oil
-1 tablespoon brown sugar
-1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
-1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root
-2 cloves garlic, grated
1. Cool the lo mein noodles according to package directions for al dente. Drain and toss with two tablespoons of sesame oil in a large bowl. Cover and chill for one hour.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Slice the scallions and cut the bell pepper, carrot, and cucumber into thin matchsticks. Set a few pieces of each vegetable aside to use as garnish (optional).
3.Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the chilled lo mein noodles and vegetables and toss well. Garnish with reserved vegetable pieces and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve at once.
RELATED: 8 pastas that only take 8 minutes to make