June 18, 2005
Recipe file: Cold sesame noodles
It's been a while since I've posted a recipe, and with the weather (finally) heating up, this seemed like the perfect time to discuss this delicious, cold main dish. I originally saw this recipe several months ago in an issue of Cook's Illustrated. We've made it three or four times, each time varying the recipe slightly.
I've always enjoyed a nice dish of sesame noodles (cold or hot) at an Asian restaurant, but had never even considered trying to make them at home, assuming that getting the sauce right would be more trouble than it was worth. The sauce in this recipe does indeed have a lot of ingredients, but none of them are especially expensive or hard to come by. And it comes together very quickly in a blender or a food processor -- simply pitch all of the ingredients in, and puree.
Prepared exactly as directed, the sauce is delicious and surprisingly complex: the major flavors are of course peanut and sesame, but you can also really taste the soy, garlic, ginger, and brown sugar. It's also very easy to alter the sauce slightly without ruining it. Do you prefer a more peanutty flavor? Just add a little extra peanut butter. Want a spicier sauce? Add more hot sauce. Find the garlic flavor overpowering? Add a little less. The sauce responds extremely well to tweaking.
One other major advantage of this recipe is that you can use either Chinese egg noodles or plain old spaghetti. We've found that spaghetti works surprisingly well in the dish. Just be sure that you cook it nicely al dente, rinse it thoroughly with cold water after it's cooked, and toss it immediately with the sesame oil. The sesame oil, by the way, really enhances the flavor of the dish, besides keeping the noodles from turning into a nasty gluey mass.
The "basic" version of the recipe, linked above, calls for (in addition to the sauce and noodles) shredded chicken, grated carrots, and scallions. We like to slightly increase the amount of carrot, since we really like carrots, and we leave out the scallions, since we are not fans of them. As to the chicken, Cook's recommends cooking it in the broiler, which makes it slightly crispy on the outside while keeping it nice and juicy on the inside. Although we haven't tried it yet, I think this will also work well with shredded grilled chicken breasts (which will solve the problem of having to run the broiler in hot weather). I think it's essential, though, that the chicken be shredded and not sliced or otherwise cut into chunks -- the texture of the shreds really absorbs the sauce, turning the chicken into a fully integrated part of the dish.
Cook's also provides a vegetarian variation of this recipe, which calls for cucumbers and red bell peppers instead of the chicken. Since we love cucumbers and all kinds of peppers, we saw no reason why the dish shouldn't include "all of the above:" chicken, carrots, cucumbers, and peppers. With all of the vegetables as well as the chicken, the dish really stands on its own as an entire meal. We will probably usually make it this way in the future, unless we're planning to serve it to vegetarian friends. Of course, the noodles would also make an excellent side dish -- a great thing to contribute to a potluck picnic.
Finally, there is one last great thing about this recipe: the leftovers can simply be pulled out of the refrigerator and eaten, no reheating required -- ideal for a quick summer lunch.
at June 18, 2005 11:08 AM
Is there any way we can get to that recipe without registering? It's probably worthwhile registering anyway, but I like to have a good reason for doing so (usually that I intend to visit the site regularly).
Yeah, it's kind of a bummer that they require registration. I'm usually wary of just copying recipes because of copyright issues, but they say this one is free, and I've certainly made it clear that it's from Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen -- so here it is:
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
2 medium cloves of garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon table salt
1 pound fresh Asian noodles or 12 ounces dried spaghetti
2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
4 scallions , sliced thin on diagonal
1 medium carrot , grated
1. Toast sesame seeds in medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1 tablespoon sesame seeds in small bowl. In blender or food processor, puree remaining 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, peanut butter, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, and sugar until smooth, about 30 seconds. With machine running, add hot water 1 tablespoon at time until sauce has consistency of heavy cream, about 5 tablespoons; set blender jar or workbowl aside.
2. Bring 6 quarts water to boil in stockpot over high heat. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to 6 inches from broiler element; heat broiler. Spray broiler pan top with vegetable cooking spray; place chicken breasts on top and broil chicken until lightly browned, 4 to 8 minutes. Using tongs, flip chicken over and continue to broil until thickest part is no longer pink when cut into and registers about 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Using 2 forks, shred chicken into bite-size pieces and set aside. Add salt and noodles to boiling water; boil noodles until tender, about 4 minutes for fresh and 10 minutes for dried. Drain, then rinse with cold running tap water until cool to touch; drain again. In large bowl, toss noodles with sesame oil until evenly coated. Add shredded chicken, scallions, carrot, and sauce; toss to combine. Divide among individual bowls, sprinkle each bowl with portion of reserved sesame seeds, and serve.
Hi, Stacie, we made this for lunch w soba noodles. We modified the recipe a little (sesame oil instead of seeds). Fabulous peanut sauce!
It's nice to know that you can use sesame oil instead of seeds. I bet soba noodles are fabulous in this dish!
Hello! Good Site! Thanks you! iicxuenarj
Did you get your chicken recipes here?
Below is a version I found that does not require chicken. This is for the vegetarians out there. (one can use vegetable stock instead of chicken broth).
I feel like this would go well over a penne, just because of its rough texture. Have you tried it?
Chinese foods are so healthy and good for the body, in the long run it helps rid the body of toxics. Been drinking a spirilua drink made from green leaf and ever since my skin has become lighter and i feel so good
Thanks, This is exactly what I was looking for.
Thanks for mentioning the vegetarian version of this great dish!
qlBXms Gripping! I would like to listen to the experts` views on the subject!!....