Spicy Sesame Noodles
This iconic Chinese dish is made in countless different ways. In this recipe, brewed black tea adds its subtle flavor to the peanut sauce, though you can substitute vegetable stock if you prefer.
- Sea salt
- 1 lb. (500 g) fresh or dried Chinese egg noodles or dried linguine
- 4 Tbs. (2 fl. oz./60 ml) Asian sesame oil, plus more for cooking
- 3⁄4 cup (7 1⁄2 oz./235 g) creamy peanut butter
- 2 tsp. tahini
- 2 Tbs. rice vinegar
- 1 Tbs. Asian chili oil
- 1 jalapeño chile, halved and seeded
- 2 to 3 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
- 2 Tbs. sugar
- Freshly ground white or black pepper
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) brewed black tea, or as needed, at room temperature
- 1 English cucumber
- 3 small carrots
- 2 green onions, white and pale green portions, thinly sliced
- Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Generously salt the water, add the fresh noodles and a few drops of sesame oil, stir the noodles to prevent them from sticking and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. (If using dried noodles, follow the timing on the package instructions.) Drain and rinse thoroughly under cold running water, then drain again. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl, add 2 Tbs. of the sesame oil and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.
In a food processor or blender, combine the remaining 2 Tbs. sesame oil, 1 tsp. sea salt, peanut butter, tahini, rice vinegar, chili oil, jalapeño, ginger, garlic, sugar, 1 tsp. pepper and 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) brewed tea. Process until smooth. Add more tea if necessary to make a sauce that is fluid enough to coat the noodles. Season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
Peel and seed the cucumber and cut into matchsticks 2 inches (5 cm) long. Peel the carrots and cut into 2-inch (5-cm) matchsticks.
Just before serving, add the sauce, cucumbers, carrots and green onions to the noodles and toss to coat evenly. If the noodles are sticky, add a bit more tea and toss again. Garnish with the cilantro and serve immediately. Serves 6.
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma A Taste of the World (Weldon Owen, 2005)