When I first moved to Florida from Manhattan, there were a few things I missed. Like winter. And sesame noodles. So much, that when I went up to New York for the weekend, I bought two big orders of them, and packed away the snap-shut plastic containers in the overhead bin on the flight down to Florida. A better laid plan has never gone more awry.
When we landed at Palm Beach International, I opened the overhead bin; immediately, the smell of cold Chinese sesame noodles flooded the aircraft, nose to tail. I knew what it was, but all the other passengers looked around, gasping, demanding, who did that? But I wasn't so embarrassed that I left them on the plane. At the last second, I grabbed my precious sesame package and made a run for it. In front of my TV that night, seated on the couch, nutty noodles dangling from my mouth, I could have no regrets.
I love cold sesame noodles. Cheap. Delicious. Substantial. If you've never had the real deal, imagine a creamy, savory sauce made from peanut butter, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, and a splash of stock. The sauce zips onto the noodles, and the whole thing is topped with a cold julienne salad of cucumber. It never occurred to me that I could make it at home.
But it is incredibly simple, and I imagine a good deal healthier. My secret ingredient in this version of sesame noodles is ginger jam, a thick spread made from spicy ginger and sugar, that gives a sweet heat to the sauce, an Asian back-of-the-throat kick of ginger, and even more thickness. Now, I don't have to suffer for my noodles. I can make them, and smell them, in the privacy of my own kitchen.
- 1 pound wide lo mein noodles
- 6 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 3 tablespoon boiling water
- 3 tablespoon ginger jam
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 4 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 2 scallions, chopped
Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain, and rinse with cold water.
Meanwhile, whisk together all the other ingredients into a smooth sauce. Gently toss the noodles with the sauce, and serve.