sesame noodles, take-out style

Chinese barbecued spare ribs with string beans in ginger and garlic on a bed of sesame noodles

I borrowed The Essential New York Times Cook Book (2010) from the NYPL. While it doesn’t claim to be the bible of cook books, it is comprehensive and has lots of interesting recipes, like this one. I like it because Amanda Hesser, who compiled this collection, also includes serving suggestions. Since the guys wanted a carb blowout for dinner, that is, Chinese barbecued spare ribs, I decided to try Hesser’s suggestion and serve them with sesame noodles. This is an interesting noodle dish, similar to Japanese somen because it’s served cold.  It’s been hours since dinner and the apartment is still redolent of hoisin sauce and sesame oil!

Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles (The Essential NYTimes Cookbook)
I could not find lo mein noodles uptown so I made do with linguine. I will try spaghettini next time. Linguine were too starchy and tended to be gummy when cold. I cooked them for six minutes, one minute over the recommended time. I needed to cook them less, then chill them right away in ice water to stop the cooking. I ran the coldest water from the tap over them. Another thing, if you don’t have rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar will do. And I made the cucumber and peanuts optional. Read my serving suggestion below.

1 pound lo mein egg noodles (1/8 inch thick) frozen or fresh (can substitute linguine but try spaghettini)
2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil, plus more for a splash
3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar (can use balsamic vinegar)
2 tablespoons sesame paste or tahini
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons chile-garlic paste or to taste (available in the supermarket Asian section)
1/2 cucumber peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into 2 inch long sticks, optional
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts, optional

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until barely tender, about 5 minutes. They should be al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again, and toss with a “splash of sesame oil.”

Whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame paste, peanut butter, sugar, ginger, garlic, and chile-garlic paste in a medium bowl.

Pour half the sauce over the noodles and toss. Add more sauce as desired. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the cucumber and peanuts. I recommend serving it with chopped scallion, cilantro, and the skinniest slivers of ginger–the trinity of Chinese cooking. Like revenge, this is a dish best eaten cold.

Cook’s Note: Don’t be shy! Use all the sauce. Believe me, it’s worth it.

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