When the sidewalk is melting and the air conditioner is on strike, cooks want to keep their time in the kitchen to a minimum. One way to avoid further meltdowns is to make Cold Sesame Noodles.

Every Chinese take-out joint in New York seems to have a variation of this classic dish, a hit with weather-weary patrons during the hot summer months. A combination of comfort food and a quick bite to eat, these noodles are unsurpassed. A light coating of sesame sauce paired with the silky texture of noodles is pleasing to the taste buds, and after one bite it becomes a consuming sensory experience. They'll be gobbled up with gusto.

A similar version to the take-out staple can be made at home without too much fuss. This recipe is a break from the basic dish, which calls for egg noodles. Instead, I used buckwheat soba noodles, a Japanese-style flat noodle.

Why mix and match two food styles? Flavor and nutrition. Soba noodles are nutritionally dense in comparison to egg noodles, and they have a nutty flavor that pairs well with a spicy sesame sauce. Plus the noodles can withstand the stirring and tossing required without falling apart. Best of all, the dish can be cooked in the morning, chilled and then eaten at night.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes including refrigeration

Yield: Feeds 2 adults

Cold Sesame Noodles

Equipment you'll need

  • Chef's knife
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • Whisk
  • Newspaper (optional)
  • Measuring cup
  • Grater

The ingredients for cold sesame noodles sit on a cutting boardThe ingredients for Cold Sesame Noodles are simple. (Photo: Enrique Gili)

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. buckwheat soba noodles, dry weight
  • 6 quarts water
  • 2 tablespoon sesame oil + 1 teaspoon
  • 3 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon tahini paste
  • 2 teaspoons chili-garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoon peanut butter, creamy
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bundle green onions, rinsed and trimmed
  • 1/2 cup raw peanuts, lightly toasted

Cooking directions

  1. Combine the following ingredients in a small mixing bowl; 2 tablespoons. sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, tahini paste, chili-garlic paste, peanut butter, sugar, ginger and garlic. Whisk until blended, about 2 minutes. Set aside to allow flavors to fuse.
  2. Bring 6 quarts water to a full boil. Cook soba noodles according to package directions. Rinse under cold water. Place in large mixing bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Pour sauce over noodles and toss until evenly coated, about 2 minutes. Add half the green onions and refrigerate, about 30 minutes or longer.
  3. Lightly toast peanuts in skillet over medium low heat, about two minutes. Remove noodles from fridge, add peanuts and remaining green onions. Plate and serve cold.

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