Cold Sesame Noodles Revisited

Pei Mei Noodles

Pei Mei Noodles

As I discussed at some length in my original post on the subject, I’ve been obsessed with cold sesame noodles for over thirty years since first encountering them at Empire Szechuan Gourmet in New York, circa 1979. I am always on the lookout for new recipes in search of my Holy Grail: the ESG noodles of my youth. I’ve found many good recipes and one is included in the aforementioned post. By all means try it.

I’m including another version in this post which is also good. As with the recipe from my previous post, they’re not exactly ESG noodles but they’re extremely tasty. The recipe was sent by a fellow musician and cold noodle fanatic who lives in NYC, so he can do research at the source. We both agree that the quality of noodles (and, says my source, Chinese food in general) has gone down over the years in NY. Maybe our views are colored by nostalgia but I tend to agree based on visits back east. Here is the recipe with annotations, third hand (at least) from my NY pal.

Cold Sesame Noodles (adapted from Pei-Mei cookbook Vol. II. They want $288.42 on Amazon for a new copy of this book. Ha.)

2 C bean sprouts
1-1/4 lb fresh Chinese noodles (Try to find Twin Marquis Cooked Noodles which are available at many Asian markets. I’ve tried dozens of noodles and these are the best. Avoid regular pasta. Trust me on this.)
2 T salad oil
1 T regular sesame oil
3 T sesame paste (Again, you’ll probably need an Asian market for this but you’ve got to have it for your noodle quest. Tahini is also made from sesame seeds but using a different process.)
6 T soy sauce
1 T vinegar (I usually use rice vinegar but basic white vinegar works, too.)
1 T red hot pepper oil (I use less but by all means go nuts if you’re into heat.)
1 tsp sugar
2 T chopped scallions
½ T chopped fresh ginger (My friend sautes the ginger and garlic briefly and I follow suit.)
½ T fresh chopped garlic
½ tsp white pepper
1 T sesame oil
1 T peanut butter (crunchy is best but you can use smooth in a pinch.)

1. Put noodles into boiling water & cook until water boils again. When tender, remove immediately and rinse off in cool water. (I use tongs so that I can reuse the water for step 2.) Put on platter (or in bowl) containing 2T salad oil. Add 1T plain sesame seed oil to noodles & mix thoroughly.

2. Boil bean sprouts 10-20 sec. (Use the same pot of water that the noodles were in.) Plunge them into cold  water. When cool, squeeze dry w/ paper towels. Put on a 2nd platter & put noodles on top. (I just put the sprouts and the noodles in a big bowl bowl.)

3. Mix sesame seed paste w/ 1T soy sauce in small bowl. Add 1 T at a time of remaining 5T of soy sauce and mix well after each addition. Add peanut butter, mix. Add vinegar, hot oil, scallion, ginger, garlic, pepper & sesame oil. Mix. Put this mixture on top of noodles.

But wait, that’s not the end of the noodle quest, there will be more recipes and photos in future posts!