Monday, April 30, 2007

Cold Noodles with Sesame or Peanut Sauce

From How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.

Noodles with peanut sauce are much more commonly found these days than when I first discovered them right after college. It is hard to deny their versatility since you can use them for an appetizer, for a main dish (whether vegetarian or with something like shredded chicken added). Have chopped garnishes such as cucumber, romaine, or radishes to toss with the noodles and add textural contrast. I also serve these hot much of the time.

And they are much simpler than many people would credit.

12 ounces fresh egg noodles, or any dried noodles, such as spaghetti
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/2 cup sesame paste (tahini) or natural peanut butter (I use Jiff, the variation with less sugar)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice or wine vinegar
Hot sesame oil, chili-garlic sauce, Tabasco, or other hot sauce to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
At least 1/2 cup minced scallions for garnish

Cook the noodles in boiling salted water until tender but not mushy. Drain, then rinse in cold water for a minute or two. Toss with half the sesame oil and refrigerate up to 2 hours, or proceed with the recipe.

Beat together the tahini or peanut butter, sugar, soy sauce, and vinegar. Add a little hot sauce and salt and pepper; taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Thin the sauce with hot water, so that it is about the consistency of heavy cream (I usually make this while the noodles are cooking so I just dip the hot water out of the pasta pot).

Toss together the noodles and the sauce, and add more of any seasoning if necessary. Drizzle with the remaining sesame oil, garnish, and serve.

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