Cold Sesame Noodles 66
Far from traditional heavy sesame noodles, this is a light and refreshing appetizer that is half noodles, half garnish. There are many different intriguing flavors in this dish; my intention was to make each bite different from the one before and after. It’s more like a kind of chopped salad, really, than a typical goopy noodle dish. I’m especially happy with the wasabi paste, because the sugar gives it a little crunch—you may find yourself using it all the time.
Total Timeunder 4 hours
OccasionFormal Dinner Party
Taste and Texturenutty, salty, tangy, umami
- ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons unsalted peanuts
- 3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
- ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ fresh red Thai chile, seeded and minced
- 1½ teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- Salt and cayenne pepper
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons black rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- ½ fresh red Thai chile
- 1 cinnamon stick, crushed
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 5 ounces dried cellophane noodles
- ¼ cup wasabi powder
- ½ cup peeled and julienned apple, preferably Granny Smith
- ½ cup peeled and julienned cucumber
- ½ cup trimmed and thinly sliced scallion
- ½ cup trimmed bean sprouts
- ¼ cup diced crystallized ginger
- 3 tablespoons peanuts, toasted and crushed
- 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted
To make the paste: Put the peanuts in a large skillet and set over medium heat. Toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from the heat and cool.
Put the sesame seeds in a medium skillet and set over medium heat. Toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until golden brown and fragrant. The sesame seeds will start to pop out of the pan. Remove from the heat and cool.
Put the ginger, garlic, chile, and sugar in a blender. Purée, adding water as necessary (about ½ cup), until smooth.
Add the crystallized ginger and reserved peanuts and sesame seeds and purée. With the machine running, add the oils and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and cayenne.
To make the broth and noodles: Put the soy sauce, vinegars, wine, and 1/3 cup of the sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, whisking until the sugar dissolves; then add the cilantro, chile, cinnamon, and coriander seeds. Remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Pour over the noodles and let sit until softened, about 30 minutes; drain. Stir together the wasabi powder and remaining 2/3 cup sugar with just enough water to make a paste, about 2½ tablespoons. Reserve the wasabi paste.
Strain the broth, ladle it into four serving bowls, and top with a mound of the noodles. Put a heaping tablespoon of the Sesame Peanut Paste on the mound, then portion the remaining ingredients over all. Top with a small dollop of the reserved wasabi paste and serve.
2007 Jean-Georges Vongerichten