Recipe: Sichuan-style cold sesame noodles

I thought I would share a favourite recipe for sesame noodles.  I first tried these noodles on a hot, summers’ day in Beijing, and after some experimentation, found a way to recreate them.  Cold noodles are very popular in China — and also in Taiwan — over summer and early autumn.  Try these and you will see why.  Sesame paste is available at Asian grocery stores.  You can substitute tahini or additional peanut butter,  but the sesame paste made from roasted sesame seeds has a more robust (and authentic) flavour.  This dish is traditionally made with thin egg noodles.  However, I find that they are actually nicer made with thin pasta.  Buckwheat soba noodles are delicious cooked this way, and would greatly increase the nutritional content of the dish.

I like to make double quantities of the sauce.  It will keep in the fridge for several weeks until needed.  I have also taken the sauce with me on a camping trip, where it was eaten with gusto by my Taiwanese friends.


500g thin spaghetti or 500g fresh egg noodles
2 generous tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoons sesame paste
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon rice wine
½ cup finely sliced shallots
Red chillis, sliced (optional)
1 medium cucumber, finely grated or shredded
1 medium carrot, finely grated or shredded

Cook the noodles in boiling water until tender but still firm.  Drain and rinse in cold water.  Place in a bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of sesame oil.  Leave to cool.

Combine the remaining sesame oil, sesame paste, sugar, soy sauce and vinegar in a small bowl or jar.  Gradually add the rice wine to thin the sauce and balance any saltiness.  

Mix the sauce through the noodles and serve at once topped with shallots (and optional chillis), grated cucumber and carrot.

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About taiwanxifu

‘Taiwanxifu’ (pronounced ‘shee foo’) means ‘Taiwan daughter-in-law’ in Chinese and has been my nickname ever since I married my Taiwanese husband, Sam. I love sampling Taiwanese food, even local specialties such as stinky tofu, pigs blood cake and Taipei beef noodle soup with offal. But there are many other options on the menu. Promise!
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9 Responses to Recipe: Sichuan-style cold sesame noodles

  1. Katrina says:

    If you want some very simple recipes for Taiwan-style food, you can also ask Richard. I mean, the real “home-style” stuff. I’m always impressed by how he can take three ingredients and make something that tastes great. His fav. story is the time he made “三杯兔” (3-cup rabbit) for my dad in NZ.

    • taiwanxifu says:

      Hi Katrina,
      Would love recipes. Quite coincidentally, we visited friends in Taoyuan this afternoon and had three-cup squid. I had only ever had three-cup chicken before, so it was interesting for me to try a variant.

  2. Fairy says:

    I will definitely be trying this recipe. I will need to acquire a few of the ingredients so it may be some time before I do but will let you know the results. Thanks.

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  4. Lucy says:

    Thank you Serena!
    I have been trying to hunt down the recipe for this sauce and am very happy to come across it on your website.
    I am a Chinese wife married to an Aussie and will be taking him to Taiwan in October (I’ve been a couple of times), hence keen to look for suggestions on places to travel to and foods for him to try. Your website has been very informative with lots of great suggestions.
    Hope you and family are all doing great.

    • taiwanxifu says:

      Thanks for your comment, and glad you like this recipe. I have heard that some Taiwanese recipes use peanut powder, but I think peanut butter is easier to find in Australia. Taiwan is a fantastic place, and I am sure you and your husband will have a wonderful time. We have had several Australian visitors through, and their favourite things to see (so far) are hot springs (including at Jiaoxi), Danshui (nice to get away from the heat), Taipei 101, the National Palace Museum, night markets (my favourite is Raohe) and even just walking around traditional wet markets of a morning. Not many of my Aussie friends are as adventurous as me in the offal eating department, but I’m sure your husband will like other snacks such as shaved ice (especially mango), Taipei beef noodle soup, seafood (lots of fried options at night markets, so long as cholesterol is not a problem) and Japanese-style foods such as sushi. In terms of sweet foods, friends have raved about Taiwanese-style pudding (especially ones made in egg shells) and the bakeries here (I love Crown on Zhongxiao East Road Section 4). Enjoy your travels!

  5. Annie K says:

    Cold sesame noodles was one of my favorite dishes to order when I lived in NYC. After I moved away from the city, I despaired of ever being able to find noodles as good as what i had enjoyed there… but now I can prepare them at home! I prepared with wheat noodles (very flavorful), but had to substitute some ingredients here and there (champagne instead of rice wine, red wine vinegar instead of rice vinegar), but it still tasted great. The sliced shallots were a very important part of recreating the flavor I remembered. thank you!

    • taiwanxifu says:

      So glad you liked this recipe. In Taiwan, they don’t usually add shallots (I don’t know why!) and they are often parsimonious with cucumber slices. I like the addition of shallots and think it gives the dish the right kick. Champagne sauce — how decadent.

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