What if you want some cold noodles but you’re fresh out of exotic ingredients like sesame paste? Try these peanut noodles. No sesame seeds were harmed in the making of this dish and you won’t have to set foot in your local Asian market. (Since I love my local Asian market I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.)
The recipe is from the folks at Cook’s Country/Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen. In other words, it’s been tested, retested and tested some more. The dish doesn’t achieve Empire Schezuan Gourmet purity but it will satisfy your cold noodle craving and make you a star at your next pot luck assuming you can keep from polishing them off beforehand.
Cook’s Country Peanut Noodle Salad
1 lb spaghetti or 1 lb linguine (I used fresh Chinese noodles but regular pasta is fine)
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
6 tablespoons reserved pasta cooking water (I added this here because it mentions it down below and I didn’t reserve any the first time I made this)
6 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon hot sauce (Srihacha or Tabasco – I used less)
1 cucumber, peeled, quartered lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin (half a large cucumber is plenty)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch strips (I didn’t use the pepper)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 green onions, thinly sliced (optional)
1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and salt to boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve ¾ cup cooking water. Drain pasta in colander, rinse with cold water until cool, drain once more, and transfer to large bowl. Add sesame oil and toss to coat.
2. Whisk peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, hot sauce, and 6 tablespoons pasta cooking water in medium bowl until smooth. Add dressing, cucumber, bell pepper, and cilantro to pasta and toss to combine, adding reserved pasta water as needed to adjust consistency. Serve.
3. Oil-coated pasta, dressing, and vegetables can be refrigerated in separate airtight containers for 2 days. Bring ingredients to room temperature before tossing together. Add warm water to thin as needed.