Spicy, Salty Sesame Noodles Will Satisfy Your Nutty Cravings

This Sesame Noodles recipe is based on sesame paste and peanut butter, and gets topped with cool cucumbers, roasted peanuts, green onions, and chili oil.

Video Transcript

JUNE XIE: Do you ever have one of those days where you want to cook, but you don't really want to cook cook, and it's raining outside and you're just like [SIGHS]. I feel you. No matter what time of year it is, what time of day it is, sesame noodles are my go-to noodle dish to whip up.

Basically, you boil some noodles, you make that delicious peanut sesame paste that gets drizzled over the noodles, you top it with your favorite toppings like crushed peanuts, scallions, hot chili oil, and that's that. You mix it up. You slurp it. You feel satisfied. And your day is just a little bit better. The best things don't have to be complicated. This is a perfect example of that.

I'll be using some dried wheat noodles. You can basically use whatever noodles you have on hand. They can be fresh. They can be dried. They can be instant ramen. They can be pasta. I'm not picky here. You do you. You work with whatever you got, and it's going to be amazing anyway. Whatever noodles you pick, just make sure that it does a good job of picking up this nice creamy sauce. These cling to the sauce perfectly.

For the sauce itself, I'm going to have some sesame paste as well as peanut butter. Now, a word about sesame paste. Chinese sesame paste, or sesame sauce, isn't the same thing as tahini. Chinese sesame paste is unhulled and toasted, while tahini is hulled and untoasted. So the flavor profiles are a little bit different.

Chinese sesame paste tends to be a little bit nuttier, a little bit more make your mouth pucker with delicious addiction. And tahini has a more raw, a little bit more astringent taste. Having said that, if you only have tahini, you can try to substitute it. It won't be quite the same, but it'll do.

On its own, sesame paste can be really earthy to the point of tasting a little bit bitter and a little bit like dirt. So I really like to go in with a bit of peanut butter to offset that and add a little bit of natural sweetness. The sauce also has a little bit of acidity in there. I'm using two types of vinegar-- Chinese black vinegar and rice wine vinegar. If you only have one or the other, or if you just have another kind of vinegar, do it.

I'm also going to be sweetening the sauce up with a little bit of honey. If you have granulated sugar or brown sugar, you can use those, too. Honey is a little bit sweeter by the tablespoon than white or brown sugar, so just adjust accordingly. Additionally, I'm going to be going in with some optional spices. If you don't have them, skip them.

From start to finish, this recipe should take about 20 minutes. And the first thing you're going to do is to cook your noodles. In a pot of boiling water, slip your noodles in. Let them cook according to package instructions until al dente. Usually for these skinny boys, it takes about three minutes.

We're going to reserve some of that cooking water to use in our sauce. And we're going to drain the rest of the noodles. And we're going to rinse them under cold water. Rinsing them will help you stop that cooking process, ensuring that your noodles stay nice and bouncy.

To avoid your noodles getting too soggy, make sure you are draining it well. Shake, shake, shake, get all of that water off. Then we're going to make our sauce.

In a bowl, we're basically going to throw everything together. Sesame paste, peanut butter goes in. We're going to throw in some of that cooking water. And we're going to whisk until it's nice and smooth and emulsified. We're going to add in a little bit of grated garlic as well as ginger. Then we'll stream in our honey-- or sugar, if you're using-- along with some soy sauce, our two vinegars, a little bit of toasted sesame oil for that extra richness, and we'll go in with a little bit of extra salt, along with-- optionally-- MSG, a little bit of cracked black pepper, a little bit of five-spice powder, citron peppercorn powder, and a pinch of nutmeg. Just trust me on this one.

While a lot of these later spices are totally optional, I do find that they kind of make the flavor of the sesame paste a lot more interesting. If you want to keep it simple, skip them. If you want to keep it exciting and kind of mysterious, give them a try.

We're going to go ahead, stir all of that together. It should be nice and smooth and drizzlable. If it's not drizzlable, go ahead and just add in a little bit more of that noodle water until it is drizzlable.

Once your paste looks really nice and silky smooth, ready to plate. So then you take your boiled noodles, you plop them beautifully on a plate. You drizzle over some of that sauce-- however saucy you want it. Then you go to town topping it. I like to accompany my noodles with a little bit of fresh crisp sliced cucumbers along with some chopped peanuts, sesame seeds, a lot of chili oil, and a little bit of chopped green onions. If ever you don't want to chopp nuts on your cutting board for those peanuts, you go ahead and just ram them into a jar and smash it with a rolling pin, if it fits. It's kind of like a poor man's mortar and pestle.

At long last, there is nothing more to do than to give a nice good mix. Wait for all the flavors to mingle together and get happy. And then it goes right into your belly.

Oh my God. If that doesn't make your day better, I don't know what will. The noodles are silky, al dente, bouncy, delightful. It's coated in this rich, slightly sticky, but completely delicious sauce that's somewhat spicy, somewhat sweet, definitely nutty, and definitely addictive. Combined with the crispness of the cucumbers, you get it all in one bite. The little crunch of sesame seeds and peanuts just add to that delight.

This is the perfect balance of comfort food and freshness that I could think of right now. You got your veggies. You've definitely got your carbs. And you got a little protein and healthy fats in there, you know?

I hope you enjoyed making this astoundingly delicious, yet surprisingly simple recipe with me today. And just let me know, how did you like this? Tell me everything. Until next time, take care, stay hydrated, and keep slurping.

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