We like to make a big batch of these noodles for a night of staying in, eating noodles, and binge-watching whole TV series. These aren’t your standard takeout sesame peanut noodles. First off, there’s no peanut butter—instead, deep and distinctively nutty sesame paste and chili oil contribute the bulk of the texture and flavor. A hint of Chinese black vinegar, with its malty, slightly sweet bite, cuts the richness of the sesame paste and plays off the heat of the chili oil. Balanced and complex, these noodles hit all the right flavor notes.
12 ounces fresh or 6 ounces dried noodles
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste
1½ tablespoons chili oil (preferably homemade)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar
Sliced green onions
Crispy fried onions
Chopped fresh cilantro
Toasted sesame seeds
1. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain well, reserving ¼ cup of the noodle cooking water.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame paste, chili oil, sesame oil, and black vinegar in a large bowl.
3. Add the noodles to the sauce, tossing to coat them well. Loosen the sauce with noodle water if needed. Serve immediately.
Notes: This recipe calls for your favorite noodle of choice. We prefer Shangxi planed noodles (pictured), which are ruffle-edged dried Chinese knife-cut noodles, easily found at any Asian grocery store, but you can use any noodle you like or have on hand—you are staying in tonight, after all! As a rough guide, go for 4 to 6 ounces of fresh noodles or 3 ounces of dried noodles per person.
If you can’t find Chinese sesame paste, try substituting tahini or, in a pinch, sugar-free natural peanut butter.
Chinese black vinegar can be switched out for balsamic or any other vinegar you might have on hand.
Don’t like your sesame noodles spicy? Substitute hoisin sauce for the chili oil.
Excerpted from The Noodle Life by Stephanie and Michael Le, photos by Michael Le. Workman Publishing © 2022.”
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