1 pound whole wheat spaghetti: $3.09
1 bunch scallions: $0.99
1 pound Napa cabbage (pro-rated): $1.89 1 carrot: $0.25 Cilantro (pro-rated): $0.50
Pantry items: Sesame oil, tahini, rice or white vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, seaweed.
Total cost (for 4 generous portions): $6.72
I don't know if these sesame noodles taste like the ones from your favorite Chinese restaurant, but I do know that they are yummy and cheap. They're also incredibly fast to put together, if you can find 20 minutes to cook the noodles in advance. I actually like to use whole wheat spaghetti, because it's always in my pantry and then I can pretend tahini-drenched pasta is slightly healthy.
Since they keep in the refrigerator for a few days, sesame noodles are good to have around for snacks or emergency meals. To make a meal of them, just add a green vegetable. This time I ate them with sea slaw (scroll down, made with peanut oil instead of mayonnaise), but steamed broccoli or braised bok choy would be just as good.
Cold Sesame Noodles
- Yield:4 to 6
- 1 pound Chinese egg noodles (or spaghetti or linguine)
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 6 tablespoons tahini
- 3/4 cup water, plus more if needed
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 1/2 teapoons sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 scallion (both white and green parts), thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (1 tablespoon)
- Chinese chili oil (optional)
- Sesame seeds (optional)
Cook the noodles in lots of boiling salted water. Drain well. Toss with the sesame oil to coat. Cover and refrigerate.
While the noodles chill, put the tahini in your serving bowl. Thin it by stirring in enough water to give it the consistency of thick cream. Whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar and add this mixture to the sesame paste. Stir in the garlic, three quarters of the scallion, and the ginger.
Just before serving, toss the chilled noodles with the sauce. Taste and add a dash of soy sauce or sesame oil if necessary. Garnish with the remaining scallion and, if you like, a drizzle of chili oil and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.