For whatever reason, cold sesame noodles always remind me of my first solo apartment in Chelsea, New York City. I am sure it has something to do with late night take-out extravaganzas from Sammy’s with friends after a little (or a lot) too much drinking. Even on those nights of less discerning tastes, I preferred the noodles that were less peanut buttery.
When I started experimenting with batches myself, I noticed versions that used a Chinese sesame paste or tahini mixed with the peanut butter. I like this combination. So does my daughter. That’s why I usually leave out the sriracha. A little will give them a nice kick though.
The original Microplane rasp grater is a workhorse in my kitchen. It’s terrific for grating both garlic and ginger.
Unlike my 20’s when these would be matched up with scallion pancakes and dumplings, I now like these noodles paired with a simple salad of mixed greens with Sesame-Lime Vinaigrette and Sautéed Mixed Mushrooms.
1 ½ cups sugar snap or snow peas
One 8-ounce package udon noodles or other sturdy, round noodle of your choice
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into bite-size strips
½ teaspoon freshly grated garlic
1 tablespoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons less sodium soy sauce (my preference is Kikkoman)
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon water
1 ½ teaspoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallions, light and dark green portion (I like to cut theon the diagonal.)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a small bowl with ice cubes.
Add the sugar snap peas to the boiling water to blanch, just to take out a bit of the raw taste, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a fine-mesh strainer or a slotted spoon, quickly scoop them out and put in the bowl of ice to stop the cooking. Dry on a towel.
Put the noodles in the same boiling water and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions, usually about 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the garlic in a small mixing bowl. Pour over the rice wine vinegar and let sit for about 5 minutes.
Strain the noodles in a colander in the sink and immediately run cold water over them, tossing them until completely cooled and separated. Shake the colander to remove excess water. Let sit while preparing the sauce.
Add the ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, tahini, and peanut butter. Whisk until smooth. The texture of the sauce needs to be loose enough to coat the noodles. Slowly whisk in the water to reach the desired consistency. Add sriracha to taste, if you like.
Give the noodles another toss and put the in a large mixing bowl. Pour over about three-quarters of the sauce, tossing to coat the noodles. Add the sugar snap peas, red pepper, and the remaining sauce, and toss again.
Transfer to a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and the scallions. Chop sticks are really great for serving them.