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  • Writer's picturePeter Jr.

Cold Sesame Noodles

From NYT Cooking | Recipe from Shorty Tang and Ed Schoenfeld Adapted by Sam Sifton

YIELD - Serves 4 (I usually double this recipe for leftovers!)

TIME - 10 minutes

This is the closest to the cold noodles at Empire Szechuan, New York, I've ever been able to find. I lived on these when I first moved to NYC in 1985. Cold noodles and a beer, dinner for about $8.00!

Noodles dressed with sesame are popular in many parts of China, but this particular style, made with peanut butter and served cold, became a Chinese-American staple in the United States in the 1970s. The family of Shorty Tang — an ambitious restaurateur who emigrated from Sichuan to Taipei to New York — firmly believes that he invented the dish and still serve it at Hwa Yuan, the restaurant he opened in 1967 in Manhattan’s Chinatown. They have never divulged the exact recipe; this is our own lush but refreshing version. —Sam Sifton



  • 1 pound noodles, frozen or (preferably) fresh (I like to use these authentic Chinese egg noodles)

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil, plus a splash

  • 3 ½ tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste

  • 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

  • 2 teaspoons chile-garlic paste, chile crisp or chile oil, or to taste

  • Half a cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/8-inch by 1/8-inch by 2-inch sticks

  • ¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts


Step 1

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until barely tender, about 5 minutes. They should retain a hint of chewiness. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and toss with a splash of sesame oil.

Step 2

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame paste, peanut butter, sugar, ginger, garlic and chili-garlic paste.

Step 3

Pour the sauce over the noodles and toss. Transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with cucumber and peanuts.

Tip: The Chinese sesame paste called for here is made of toasted sesame seeds; it is not the same as tahini, the Middle Eastern paste made of plain, un-toasted sesame. But you could use tahini in a pinch. You need only add a little toasted sesame oil to compensate for flavor, and perhaps some peanut butter to keep the sauce emulsified.


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