1 pound noodles, frozen or fresh (use less if using dried or this won’t be enough sauce)
2 tablespoons sesame oil, plus a splash
3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste (not tahini)
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons chile-garlic paste, chile crisp or chile oil, or to taste
Half a cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/8-inch by 1/8-inch by 2-inch sticks
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until barely tender, about 5 minutes. They should retain a hint of chewiness. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and toss with a splash of sesame oil.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame paste, peanut butter, sugar, ginger, garlic and chili-garlic paste.
Pour the sauce over the noodles and toss. Transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with cucumber and peanuts.
The Chinese sesame paste called for here is made of toasted sesame seeds; it is not the same as tahini, the Middle Eastern paste made of plain, untoasted sesame. But you could use tahini in a pinch. You need only add a little toasted sesame oil to compensate for flavor, and perhaps some peanut butter to keep the sauce emulsified.
Skip the noodles altogether and put the delicious sauce on veggies and tofu.
Make 50 percent more sauce and serve with choice of condiments: cshredded duck or chicken, tofu, cucumber, sweet red pepper, hot pepper, scallion, jicama, and so on. Keep them all about the same size with shredding or julienne.
Garnish with cucumber but also a large mound of fresh beans sprouts, grilled chicken or tofu, cherry tomatoes, black radishes, snow peas & anything else that comes to hand.
In cold weather, add the dressed noodles to a bowl of hot soup stock flavored with garlic, sliced coins of fresh ginger, dried shrimp to chase away the blues and the sniffles of dark cold winter days.
Add broccoli, carrots, red peppers, scallions, peapods, bean sprouts, etc.
Add chicken or shrimp.
Craig Claiborne and Virginia Lee’s The Chinese Cookbook for 2 to 4 servings, from 4 ounces of fine egg noodles, calls for: 1/4 cup sesame paste 3 T brewed tea or water 2 T hot oil (Optional, but if you want spicy, it’s got to be there) 3 T light soy sauce (that is, the regular kind) 3 T red wine vinegar 2 tsp sugar salt 1/4 tsp MSG (optional) [this recipe dates from 1972!] 1/4 cup peanut oil 2 T chopped garlic 1 T sesame oil.