Awhile back, Mike of Menu in Progress posted some beautiful dishes with fish (read the post here). Ever since I read the post, I’ve been craving sesame noodles. Mike pointed me to Week of Menu’s version of William Sonoma’s recipe (thanks Mike!).
On a recent shopping trip, I bought some fresh Asian noodles (flour ones, not egg noodles) that I had planned for some other recipe but never got around to it. Then it hit me that I should make the sesame noodles with them before they pass the expiration date. Although I like Week of Menu’s version, I played around with the recipe a bit since I really wanted to enhance the sesame flavor, much like the sesame noodles I grew up with. I used Mike’s recommendations of reducing the sesame oil and the veggies. I also tried using rice vinegar and Shaoxing wine in place of the balsamic vinegar but I liked it best with the balsamic vinegar. The tang from the rice wine was a bit too much tang and with the Shaoxing wine, it wasn’t enough tang. I also tried using a bit of peanut butter (not more than a tablespoon) and it was okay but not really the sesame flavor I was looking for. I also increased the amount of sesame oil, which surprising didn’t increase the sesame flavor a whole lot.
What really did the trick in boosting the sesame was sesame paste. I love sesame paste, especialliy in dipping sauces. And just a couple of tablespoons really took the flavor through the roof. I also liked the extra kick from the Asian chili garlic sauce (but I love that stuff). The Mister loved it and he said it reminded him a bit of Ba Ren’s cold Sichuan Cold Noodles. It did a little in an odd way. And if I had some diced Sichuan pickles, it would have been even better. So here’s my version of a version of Willliam Sonoma’s sesame noodles.
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 Tablespoon Asian chili garlic sauce
- 4 large cloves of garlic, minced or pushed through a press
- 1 Tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
- 2 Tablespoons Asian sesame paste
- 3 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons sesame oil (preferably Japanese or Korean sesame oil)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 lb Asian noodles (you can use linguine or angel hair pasta)
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 Tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm vegetable oil. Add red pepper flakes and chili garlic sauce. Cook, stirring mixture until the oil becomes slightly red and the pepper is fragrant. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant and soft, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
In a small bowl, whisk together sesame paste, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar until mixture is smooth. Add sesame oil, sugar, and salt. Whisk in the garlic-ginger mixture. Set aside.
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Transfer to a bowl. Add sauce and coat the noodles. Add scallions and coat the noodles. Cover and let sit at room temperature for about 1 hour. Just before serving add cilantro. Toss to coat.