peanut sesame noodles

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The fact that today is a startling 78 degrees with low humidity and the sun is streaming in wide ribbons through every windowed wall is leaving me as torn as I have ever been between my simultaneous urges to Take Walk! Frolic Outside! Drinks Beers on a Terrace, Somewhere! And come home late tonight with my skin smelling like summer and my forehead re-freckled and fall into a deep sleep, my legs twitching like a puppy who dreams about catching frisbees… and, you know, bake some things for tomorrow’s Seder. Hrm, is it actually any question what will win?

Nevertheless, I haven’t even told you about my Single Girl’s Dinner from Monday night. No, calm down, Alex did not finally tire of me, the dishes I create and my incessant complaining about the wrinkles on my forehead (and the IfYouLovedMeYou’dBuyMeBotox!), etc. He just had some clients taking him out to dinner and I was in no mood for take-out. Well, that’s not true, I was in the mood for takeout-like food, but I wanted it to be the way I like it which pretty much left me with the option of making it myself. Such is the life of the Too Picky For Their Own Good.

I had cold peanut sesame noodles for the first time when I was 13 and had recently decided to go vegetarian. A friend who was also eschewing meat wanted to go to a Chinese restaurant and I was certain there would be nothing for us eat, but she ordered them for us and I was instantly, head-over-heels in love. If this was vegetarian food, I was in it for the long haul (or about until the age of 28, you know, whichever came first). However, it was many more years before I found a formula for it that allowed me to make it at home, any time I pleased.

And yet, I actually don’t make it very often because my favorite way to eat it is toss with some cold chunks of firm tofu and this guy I married thinks that tofu is evil (and seeing as I am a really picky–but I like to call it “particular”–eater, I don’t have any leverage to change his mind), which is why Monday night was a perfect excuse to dust off my old favorite. Except, I was bit more tired and lazy (than usual) so when the store was out of the buckwheat soba noodles I usually like, I settled for somen, which are really too thin and delicate for this dish. I also realized after I had already sat down that I’d forgotten to toast sesame seeds, which, in case you don’t already know, means it’s just not happening.

Let’s see, if you were coming here for the first time, you’d learn that that I don’t want to do my work, I complain a lot to my husband and I’m lazy. I should edit this to make me seem like a nicer, better person but–squee!–the sun beckons. I hope you all have a great weekend.

2015 Update: There’s a fresher, lighter version of these noodles on the site: Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles

Peanut Sesame Noodles
Adapted from Gourmet, June 2002

Servings: Makes 6 side-dish or 4 vegetarian main-course servings.

For peanut dressing
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons Asian toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes or a splash of the hot sauce or chili paste of your choice

For noodles
3/4 lb dried soba nooodles (dried linguine fini or spaghetti will work in a pinch)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips
Half a seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup firm or extra-firm tofu, cubed
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Puree dressing ingredients in a blender until smooth, about 2 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl.

Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until tender. Drain in a colander, then rinse well under cold water.

Add pasta, scallions, bell peppers, cucumber and tofu to dressing, tossing to combine. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately.

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