Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cold & Not So Cold Sesame Noodles

I have found a new love: cold sesame noodles.

I know this is a New York staple, but it’s new to me. I made it from a recipe I found in Diana Shaw’s wonderful cookbook The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook. It is a very simple recipe. I changed it a little bit (so all blame is mine).


  • 2 qt or larger saucepan
  • 1qt or larger bowl
  • microplane grater
  • tablespoon measure
  • fork or small whisk
  • colander or fine mesh strainer
  • small, heat resistant measuring cup


1 clove garlic, freshly grated
2 Tablespoons Ginger, peeled & freshly grated
1 Tablespoon Peanut butter
1 Tablespoon Tahini
1 Tablespoon Sesame oil
1 Tablespoon Soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon roasted Sesame seeds
1 Scallion, finely sliced, well into the green
1 bundle (8oz) Sobo noodles
Salt to taste, although you shouldn’t need it.
¼ Cup cooked pasta water, you may only use 2 tablespoons


  1. Fill the saucepan ⅔rds full with water & set on high to boil.
  2. Grate the garlic into a bowl, then grate the ginger. Add peanut butter, tahini, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Wisk together. Add sesame seeds and scallions.
  3. Cook sobo noodles as per the package directions.
    OR place noodles in the boiling water. Stir to keep noodles separated. When water returns to a rolling boil, reduce heat enough to keep noodles moving. Stand over the pot, because sobo noodles will boil over fast. “A watched pot never boils” does not apply to sobo noodles. Cook until the center is cooked but still firm. Remove about ¼ cup of the pasta water before you drain the pasta and set aside.
  4. Drain. Rinse in cold water so that the noodles do not stick together.
  5. Toss the noodles in the sauce. Add 2 tablespoons of the pasta water. You will need only enough pasta water to toss the pasta until it is evenly covered with sauce. Discard the rest of the pasta water.
  6. Refrigerate the pasta at least three hours or over night.

Delicious variation: Replace rice vinegar with fresh lime.

  • juice of ½ of a lime
  • zest of ½ lime

What do you do with the other half of the lime? A good reason to double the recipe.

Another variation that I love because I can’t always wait three hours: When the noodles are cooked perfectly, toss a whole lot of (a real measurement) broccoli. When the cooking water returns to a simmer, the broccoli is done. Drain broccoli & noodle mixture in a fine mesh strainer, but do not rinse. Toss in the sauce. Eat right away.

Note on ginger: a thumb sized piece of ginger will produce two tablespoons of grated ginger. Also, if you grate the garlic first, then the ginger, the micrograter will be easier to clean. (Follow that with the lime zest!)

Note on peanut butter: I have read that real New York sesame noodles uses regular – sugar added, hydrogenated oil – peanut butter. I only had the “natural” stuff and I prefer it. Try whatever peanut butter you have on hand.

Note on sesame oil: “Roasted” or “toasted” if you can find it.

Note on soy sauce: Ms. Shaw lists low sodium soy sauce in the recipe, but I don’t salt the noodle water so I find that regular soy sauce is fine.

Note on the pasta water: You want to add enough pasta water so that the sauce is lose enough to coat the noodles. The sauce will thicken as it cools. The extra pasta water helps to keep the noodles from sticking when cold.

Note on roasted sesame seeds: I found roasted sesame seeds in the Asian food aisle, much cheaper than regular sesame seeds in the spice aisle. If you can only find regular sesame seeds, roast them in a small frying pan (or the noodle sauce pan before you fill it with water) for five minutes on high heat, constantly moving the pan over the burner until you can smell the sesame and they turn light brown. If they turn black, you have gone too far.

    Use only one tablespoon to measure:
  1. Scoop the peanut butter
  2. Pour the tahini, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar (no need to measure the lime juice.)
  3. Pour the sesame seeds.
  4. By the time you scoop one or two tablespoons of pasta water, the spoon should nearly be clean.

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