Jamie was home for the week and of course we pulled out the party plates and hosted happy hour at our house. Though we usually stick to finger foods, we broke out the forks and chopsticks for a delicious, perfect for hot weather dish, Sesame noodles. A combination of soy, vinegar, sesame oil in the dressing packs a flavor punch followed by a spicy kick courtesy of the chili oil. The dish is prepped in advance and left to sit overnight for the flavors to meld. Just before serving, give the noodles a last toss and a sprinkle of green onions and sesame seeds on top and then watch friends gobble it up. Really, that good.
My friend Sarah asked for the recipe for these tasty noodles to which I teasingly replied “its an old family recipe”. I had her for a second until I finished with “from my dear Aunt, Martha Stewart”. Yep, the recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Entertaining. An iconic tome filled with delicious recipes and the ABC’s on “how to host” a fabulous party that changed the way my generation viewed “The good Life”. I was on a student’s budget when Entertaining was published so the best I could do was pour over the pages of her book. Though an elegant Manhattan penthouse cocktail party or Hawaiian Luau in the Hampton’s were not within reach at least her recipes were.
We served the Sesame Noodle salad with grilled flank steak and a cucumber salad. A big hit! The recipe is simple and easy to prep. The hard part happens way before you start making this delicious dish. THE INGREDIENTS. The dressing calls for Chinese Black Vinegar and Dark Soy Sauce. Whaat? Isn’t there just one soy sauce to rule them all? Nope. Chinese dark or black soy sauce is actually thicker and less salty than regular Chinese soy sauce or Kikkoman Soy Sauce. It is fermented a little longer and contains either molasses or sugar which adds a bit of sweetness. The other ingredient is Black Chinese Vinegar. Chinese Black vinegar also known as Chinkiang Vinegar is best described as a slightly less sweet Balsamic Vinegar. I did painstaking intensive research (googled it) and found the best substitution (from America’s Test Kitchen) equal parts red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar blended together. I did my own taste test and it did seem to be pretty close in flavor, maybe a touch sweeter than black vinegar. A picture is worth a whole lotta words so here are my bottles of the different sauces. All are well used and not pretty but serviceable for id purposes. I prefer the Pearl River Dark Soy, its a little mellower and not quite as salty as Koon Chun. For those of you in my neck of the woods, I will gladly point you in the right direction for where and which ones to buy.
I have added my own twists to this dish of course. I actually decrease the amount of salt (the original seemed like a ton) and use kosher salt. I add 1 -2 tablespoons of oyster sauce (I know what your thinking noooo, not another sauce, this is optional but everyone should have a bottle of this miracle sauce in their pantry-make sure it is LKK with the kid and mom in the boat). The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of chili oil. I’m a wimp I usually cut that in half. At different times I have added blanched asparagus, sugar snap peas, snow pears, fresh corn or shredded chicken for a more substantial salad, sky’s the limit. Garnish with green onions and cilantro (if you like cilantro) and toasted sesame seeds. Voila’ KILLER NOODLE SALAD ready to go!
- Make this dish the night before
- 2 pounds chinese egg noodles
- 1/2 cup sesame oil
- 1/2 cup black soy sauce
- 3 T black Chinese vinegar
- 3 T sugar
- 1 1/2 t salt
- 2 T hot pepper oil (chili oil) (start with 1 T it is really spicy with 2)
- 1/2 cup finely sliced scallions (white and green part)
- Recipe can easily be halved**
- In a large pot of boiling water, cook the noodles 1 pound at a time. Boil 4-5 minutes, until just tender.
- Drain, rinse well under cold running water until chilled, and drain again. Put in a large bowl.
- Combine remaining ingredients. Reserve approximately 1/4 of the dressing. Stir the rest into cold noodles, mixing well.
- Chill overnight.
- Just before serving toss with reserved dressing. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and additional green onions.
- Variations: Reduce salt to 1 T kosher, add 1-2 T oyster sauce. Add blanched asparagus or snow peas or sugar snap peas or cucumbers.
- For a more substantial dish add shredded chicken or cooked shrimp.