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.