Verdict: Win

I wanted to serve noodles at David's birthday because in the Chinese culture noodles are eaten during birthdays to symbolize longevity. I used the sauce from the recipe and winged everything else. I had thin egg noodles with several choices for toppings: shredded boiled chicken breasts, eggs, grated carrots, julienned bell peppers, matchstick cucumbers, and blanched bean sprouts. All of the ingredients were unadulterated and needed that sauce to bring it all together. I loved how the "lao gan ma" chili sauce (that Dan bought me!) completed the sesame sauce. I enjoyed it, but others who aren't fond of peanut butter didn't use the sauce which I think then made the noodles kind of bland. Alternatively, you can just add a dash of soy sauce, lao gan ma, and sesame oil to flavor the noodles.

Cold Sesame Noodles from Appetite for China
Yield: Serves 4

12 ounces dried Chinese egg noodles, soba, or spaghetti
2 tbsp peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp grated ginger
3 tbsp Chinese sesame paste
2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp Chinese rice vinegar
2 tsp chili sauce (I used the lao gan ma sauce)
2 tbsp sugar
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into matchsticks
2 small handful peanuts, chopped
2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced for garnish

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook egg noodles or spaghetti until just done and still firm, or the minimum amount of time according to package instructions. Drain immediately, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Toss with 1 tablespoon peanut oil and set aside.

Heat the other tablespoon of peanut oil in a small pan. Stir-fry the minced garlic and grated ginger until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame paste, peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, water, Chinese rice vinegar, chili sauce, and sugar until smooth. Stir in the garlic and ginger.

Pour the sauce over the noodles, add half the cucumber matchsticks, and toss. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the rest of the cucumber, the chopped peanuts, and the scallions.


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