takeout-style sesame noodles with cucumber Recipes

takeout-style sesame noodles with cucumber

Is there anything more inspiring than a farmer’s market at the height of the summer, piled high with funky heirloom tomatoes, eggplants from fairytale to freakishly large, crinkly peppers, bi-color corn as far as the eye can see and stone fruits in every color of the rainbow? Wouldn’t this be a great time to cook with all of them? Isn’t it almost a moral imperative to fill our systems with as much of summer as we can before it passes and we spend the rest of the seasons pining for its return? Probably, I mean, yes, of course. But cravings are cravings, and what I’ve really been dreaming about is so-called Chinese food, like, the terrible stuff that comes unceremoniously in white boxes with an embarrassment of chopsticks (because they thought you were ordering for a dozen people, and not just the three of you). I’ve long accepted that if I don’t at least occasionally indulge cravings, they’re never going to pass.

what you'll need, plus or minus the ant that crawled in with the pot (silly deb)
piles of cucumber

The irony of craving unfancy takeout in a sleep-deprived, no-energy-for-cooking period of time that would normally be full of it is not lost on me. If a combination of a few freezer meals plus grandma deliveries of everything from soup to lasagna to pelmeni and vareniki weren’t ensuring that we’d never have to order in, I’d probably never want to see a Seamless.com order screen by now. But cold sesame noodles have long been one of my desert island dishes, and at least once or twice a year, nothing else is going to cut it.

all of the delicious things

My complaint with them is that they can feel quite heavy, especially if you’re using a thick sauce on Chinese egg noodles as the base that most restaurants do. As it’s still 90-plus muggy degrees almost everyday, I’ve been obsessed with finding a way to lighten them up for summer. I started by using rice noodles instead, and updated my usual peanut butter-heavy sauce with something thinner in coating and punchier in flavor, with everything from rice vinegar, ginger and chile-garlic paste giving it a lift, using a recipe from Ed Schoenfeld of the awesome Red Farm restaurants and late Chinatown Brasserie as guidance. And then, I just used less of it. Rather than trying to weave threads of julienned vegetables through the noodles, as I have in the past, I nested a medium-sized knot of dressed noodles into the bottom of the bowl, piled half of it with wafer-thin slices of cold (seasonal! local! See? I tried.) cucumber, then showered the whole thing with chopped roasted salted peanuts and a fistful of chopped cilantro, parsley and mint from my garden.

sesame sauce, rice noodles

Do I need to tell you what an easy and delicious summer lunch or dinner this can be? How friendly it might be to my too tired or unmotivated to cook brethren, because you can make the sauce, comprised mostly of pantry ingredients, whenever you find 10 minutes of free time and keep it until needed, the noodles are supposed to be cold, and your cucumbers will stay crisp as long as you need them to? No, I do not. But I’ve never let that stop me before, either.

takeout-style sesame noodles with cucumber

Cold noodles, previously: Apparently, it’s a warm-weather theme at the Smitten Kitchen. Cold Noodles with Miso, Lime and Ginger, Cold Noodles with Peanut-Lime Chicken, Spicy Soba Noodles with Shiitakes, Cellophane Noodle Salad with Roast Pork and my 2008 recipe for Peanut Sesame Noodles (but I like this one better these days)

One year ago: Grilled Peach Splits + News!
Two years ago: Hot Fudge Sundae Cake and Mama Canales-Garcia’s Avocado Shrimp Salsa
Three years ago: Zucchini Bread Pancakes (still a favorite) and Zucchini Rice Gratin
Four years ago: Charred Corn Tacos with Zucchini-Radish Slaw
Five years ago: Scalloped Tomatoes with Croutons (we will be making it this week!)
Six years ago: Best Birthday Cake and Arugula Potato and Green Bean Salad
Seven years ago: Salad Olivier and Sauteed Radishes with Sugar Snaps and Dill
Eight years ago: Roseanne Cash’s Potato Salad and Quick Potato Pierogi

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Key Lime Pie
1.5 Years Ago: Pear and Hazelnut Muffins
2.5 Years Ago: Buttermilk Roast Chicken
3.5 Years Ago: Intensely Chocolate Sables

Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles with Cucumber
Sauce adapted from Ed Schoenfeld, via Sam Sifton

Cold sesame noodles, lightened up for summer. I used wide, flat rice noodles (often sold as rice “sticks” typically used for pad Thai here, but 1/8-inch thick Chinese egg noodles, sold frozen or fresh at Asian markets, are more takeout traditional (but not gluten-free). Chinese sesame paste is made with toasted sesame seeds, while Middle Eastern tahini is usually made with plain, untoasted seeds. I used tahini, because it’s what I had on hand, and it works just fine. You can add an extra splash of toasted sesame oil to compensate for any lost toasted sesame flavor, if you wish. Peanut allergies? Just use sesame seed paste entirely here, and toasted sesame seeds for garnish. The flavor will be slightly different, but no less delicious. 2 teaspoons chile-garlic paste is the original recommendation but we just dotted it on the grown-up bowls, so not to scare the heat-averse 5 year-old. Note: while soy sauces are naturally gluten-free, some are brewed using trace amounts of wheat, and if you are gluten-free, it’s best to look for a clear gluten-free label before buying one.

Serves 4, generously, and up to double that if served as shown, with lots of cucumber, peanuts and herbs

3/4 pound dried rice noodles (see notes up top)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, plus a splash to loosen noodles
2 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste or tahini (see note up top)
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated or brown sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic (from 1 medium-large clove)
Chili-garlic paste, to taste
1/2 pound cucumber, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped
A handful of chopped fresh herbs, such as mint and cilantro, for garnish

Cook noodles according to package directions and rinse with cold water to cool. Drain well. Drizzle with a tiny splash of toasted sesame oil to keep them from sticking until dressed.

Meanwhile, whisk sesame paste and peanut butter in the bottom of a small bowl, then whisk in soy sauce, rice vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, sugar, ginger, garlic and chile-garlic paste to taste until smooth. Adjust flavors to taste. It might seem a bit salty from the bowl, but should be just right when tossed with noodles.

Toss sauce with cold noodles.

Place a medium-sized knot of dressed noodles in each bowl, followed by a pile of cucumber. Garnish generously with peanuts and herbs. Serve with extra chile-garlic paste on the side.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New here? You might want to check out the comment guidelines before chiming in.

176 comments on takeout-style sesame noodles with cucumber

  1. Gayle S.

    I don’t know which is yummier – the picture of your gorgeous Anna or the sesame noodle dish! I have everything for the noodles so will be making that shortly. Hope things are settling in with that delectable baby girl!

  2. Libby

    This looks great! Quick question – when you say smooth peanut butter do you mean natural (unsweetened) or more like Skippy/Jif sweetened stuff? Thanks, Deb!

  3. NoOdLeS! Yummy! This looks amazing in every way. I could really go for some noodles right now. And preparing them asian style is so perfect and cooling for summertime. So glad you were inspired by the farmer’s market! I finally live in a city where there are a bunch of farmer’s markets to choose from, and it makes me oh so happy. I really want to make this now :)

  4. alexis

    I made something similar (by winging it – so it was good but not awesome) with soba noodles since my almost 3 year old loves “black spaghetti.” Will try this again with your dressings…but since I’m 6 months pregnant and heartburn sizzles my innards about 18 hours a day, I’ll also be eating the 5 year old chili free version!

  5. Sarah M.

    Making these for dinner– thanks for the note on tahini, it will make things so much easier! Anna has such light hair and looks precious! Also I think you meant “desert island” rather than dessert island, in which case I would request black sesame dumplings!

  6. Kate

    This looks super yummy! Quick edit- there’s something funky going on with the second sentence under the photo of sliced cucumbers. I’ll go ahead and blame the baby :)

  7. I just learned about sesame oil and it’s amazing! And the peanut butter in this recipe is awesome too, can’t wait to sample. Isn’t it crazy how tired you are after having a baby, and I didn’t even have a baby ~ my wife did. But I’m still tired even though she was the one who always got up to nurse. It’s terribly was lack of sleep does to you isn’t it!!! You’ll get through it though and baby is worth it =)

  8. deb

    Libby — I use/used Skippy, as does Schoenfeld. From the article: “If you’re using a natural peanut butter, you’re already complicating matters. As Schoenfeld says, “It’s all about the Skippy, baby.”” That said, I’m sure whatever you have on hand will be good enough.

    Maddy — Dry. Will note.

    Sarah M. — Ha! Thanks, fixed now.

    Kate — Hm, I’m not sure I see it? Grr.

    Tom — This.

  9. amanda

    THANK YOU. I have been battling a horrible spate of wanting nothing to do with the kitchen, yet still loading up my tote with produce from the farmer’s market each weekend because I can’t bear to not at least have some of that pined-for-all-year-long produce in my fridge. I won’t even begin to admit how much I’ve spent on macro plates at Souen this summer, because I JUST DON’T WANT TO COOK. But one of the tastiest meals I’ve eaten recently is a simplest ever plate of sesame noodles from Joe’s Shanghai up in Flushing. I could hug and kiss you for inspiring me to make an even better version (and to use up that lone cucumber in my fridge.) You’re the best.

  10. Sally

    This looks like EXACTLY what I want to be eating. I don’t have a newborn, but I’m so uninspired right now, which is lame considering it’s summer.

    Kate’s referring to this sentence –

    If a combination a few freezer meals plus deliveries of everything from soup to lasagna to Seamless.com order screen by now.

  11. Annette

    I don’t know what this says about me but these days I scan your posts not for cooking inspiration but for baby pictures. So thank you to commenters 1 and 2 for alerting me that there was, indeed, a photo available. And a predictably adorable one, too. Yay!

  12. deb

    amanda — I think it’s pretty normal for the summer. And the summer makes it easier to get away with it because there’s so much fresh produce that barely needs to be cooked. I say enjoy it. :)

    Sally, Kate — Ah, thanks for bearing with me because as you all probably know, I rarely sleep in more than 2 hour stretches these days. I think it makes more sense now?

  13. Hi! Congrats on the kid. This recipe looks great; I’ll have to try it with my garden’s cucumber overload soon — I’ve made two double batches of your delicious cucumber lemonade and countless cucumber soups but the crisper drawer is still almost too heavy to open.

    And speaking of summer surplus, the zucchini bread pancakes have become a favorite in this household too. And the zucchini bread, and the zucchini fritters, and DEAR GOD how is there another 3lb zucchini to harvest??? Good excuse to work my way through your archive — I love your brave attempts to vanquish the spoils of the season.

    Now, if you have any ideas for managing a bumper crop of Carola potatoes in high August fashion… delicious variety, a tad too dry for potato salad but good for almost anything else…

  14. Summer always makes me feel, surprisingly, BLAH about eating. All the fruits and veg look so amazing, but when it comes to putting them together into a whole meal of food? Meh. BUT sesame noodles (similar to your 2008 version!) are one of our go-tos on summer evenings!

  15. Wendy

    Treats (aka desert island food) always a must. I make a similar dish that uses soba–sometimes cha soba. And for the dressing, we use soynut butter or sunbutter (nut allergies) and lots of cilantro. I find that these “nutty” noodle sauces get thicker over time, so I often thin with a little water to lighten them up. Thank you for sharing your latest version!

  16. Mimi (another one :)

    Oh what an adorable baby girl!! Go kiss her cheeks now, quick :D
    Sorry, this is what having 3 kids does to you.

    Now I’ll read the sesame noodles part. I actually had those once in a Vietnamese restaurant (or s.th. very like it) and they were great. Another recipe to bookmark…

  17. How funny! I just made some lovely Asian takeout inspired noodles, but I used soba noodles and an almond sauce because I was out of tahini and am allergic to peanuts (a recent allergy- who knew you could develop them at 23! Craziness and heartbreaking- no more Reese’s peanut butter cups for me!). This looks glorious and I’ll have to make this one soon! Congratulations on the new addition to your family, by the way, she is lovely :)

  18. Madie

    At our house we refer to those white takeout boxes with the wire handles as “turtle boxes” because back in the 1960’s they were used to package little pet turtles sold at the old five and dime stores. Our take is the boxes weren’t good for the turtles and any food put in them suffers equally!

  19. Beth

    Deb! Next time you’re in Boston, please track down one of the Bon Me food trucks and get one of their cold noodle salads (examples here: http://www.bonmetruck.com/gallery/). I am completely and utterly addicted to it. Especially the rice noodle + vietnamese vinaigrett + roasted soy and paprika tofu.

  20. Clare

    Hello from Brooklyn! Your site is the go-to recipe book in our house – for both adult meals and those of our toddler (various strata, zucchini gratin, and your carrot cake which i made into the shape of an Elmo for his recent second birthday, being his favorites). I bought your wonderful book and use this site weekly, but am finally compelled to comment by the fact that you have posted twice since recently having a newborn, and continued despite pregnancy-lack-of-appetite. Thanks for all the wonderful recipes!

  21. Mel

    First of all. Your children. Are. Just. Too. Adorable. Really. :)
    Second of all I can’t wait to make this because it’s all I want now that I’ve seen it
    Third of all would you consider also listing it in your lunch section and the quick section? I would definitely make this for lunch, or a quick dinner!
    Best to you and your family!!!

  22. I love this idea, Deb! A light and refreshing Chinese dish…the closest thing I can think of to that concept is chinese chicken salad, which is just so sad lol. But that’s why I have you and your inspirational recipes that make me think outside the box. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe – I’m really excited to try it out :)

  23. Janae

    Having a newborn is SO HARD. I think I actually started to believe I would never, ever sleep again. I can’t believe you even managed to make those tomato sandwiches recently, let alone this bowl of deliciousness. You are awesome, and Anna is a beautiful baby! (And does she have blonde hair?!)

  24. rootloves

    Deb, I discovered Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce as a freshman at Columbia University in 1988, and have craved it ever since. Feeling nostalgic seeing the your recipe, and so excited to try it.

  25. This is exactly what I was dreaming of. I’m only sorry I just got back from the grocery store with ingredients for today’s lunch… otherwise this would be on my menu for sure. Good thing tomorrow is another day!

  26. I’ve had my eye on these noodles for a while and they had totally slipped my mind, thanks for catapulting them to the top of my must-cook-immediately-when-back-from-holiday-list! After an all butter, cream, butter, wine, butter, cheese, butter, baguette, butter, red wine, butter, white wine, butter, escargots, we’ll need a quick Asian takeout fix. Though I am not complaining, on the contrary: Did I mention butter?

    Adorable picture of Anna. Bonne journée, Nicole

  27. Helen in CA

    Just re-read the notes and got my answer. Oops.

    “Peanut allergies? Just use sesame seed paste entirely here, and toasted sesame seeds for garnish. The flavor will be slightly different, but no less delicious.”

    Looking forward to trying this!

  28. I have made something similar with soba noodles that’s become a staple for summer BBQs as both adults and kids love it, but I must try your dressing as it does seem a bit lighter that I’d probably prefer. Love all the herbs on top too.

  29. Rebecca

    I’ve been reading (and cooking from) your blog for years, but was just diagnosed last month with celiac disease. I just want to thank you for having a gluten-free category in the recipe index and for always carefully noting how to keep a recipe gluten-free — it is much appreciated!

  30. THANK YOU! I used to have a great recipe for cold sesame noodles and I lost it. I have been trying to recreate the magic with limited success. There are definitely going to be some in the coming week! I do love the Chinese egg noodles, but will give the rice noodles a try.

  31. Evalyn

    And for those with a sesame allergy? (One that I seriously hate, since it developed well into adulthood, and means that I have to monitor all Asian and Middle-eastern food.) Using all peanut butter would make it too sweet, I think. Anybody have a good replacement for tahini and/or sesame oil? I miss that nice toasty flavor they add. (FYI, I’ve tried various toasted nut oils, and they are all bland in comparison. The best sub I’ve found is adding a bit of defatted peanut powder.)

  32. “Isn’t it almost a moral imperative to fill our systems with as much of summer as we can before it passes and we spend the rest of the seasons pining for its return?”

    You have such a way with words <3

    YUM noodles.

  33. Jessie

    When I first moved to NYC Hua Yuan Szechuan on 2nd Avenue became my guilty pleasure- making a special trip on my way home to the various outer boroughs I moved to yearly after one year leases expired. When they closed there was a huge gastronomic hole in the city for quite a while. The NY Times published a recipe that purported to have Hua Yuan pedigree, but I will try this one for the lightness aspect you speak of. Still looking for the restaurant replacement, but this looks delicious, and very adjustable for taste.

  34. Pat C

    Beautiful! Looks like she’s going to have a little lighter hair than her brother.
    Enjoy the munchkin years while they last – they grow up too soon! I know everyone tells you this, but it’s so true.

  35. stephanie

    yes, i selfishly also still want the jacob photos AND baby photos! ;)

    also i loved your bit about the chopsticks – whenever we get sushi we always play the “how gluttonous are we being tonight” aka “how many people is this *supposed* to feed” game by counting the chopsticks sent. but no amount of chopstick shaming can stop me from eating my weight in sushi or noodles!

    and thank god for that. these noodles look delicious, and have since i first saw them at 10am.

  36. mary

    i must be doing something wrong — i never see pictures of the baby OR jacob! Do i need to become a loyalty member to get to see the good stuff? please upgrade me to SmittenKitchenLoyalist!

  37. CarolJ

    @Mary #61, there’s always a link in the post – here, it’s “period of time” in the second paragraph, but sometimes they’re hard to see (at least on my screen), so I click on one of the photos in the body of the post, which brings up the photo on flickr. From there, a click on “Back to photostream” will bring up the entire series of photos, and there he/she is.

  38. Laurabel

    Hi Mary, I was thinking the same thing but the word ‘hunt’ gave me the clue I needed. If you click on the words “period of time” in Deb’s second paragraph it will take you to some pictures. On my computer the words are barely a different shade – my excuse as to why I was so slow to realize. : ).
    Thanks so much for the recipe Deb – it is going to be a side dish for our BBQ party tomorrow night with pulled pork the main event. I am astounded that you have started posting again already, I barely moved from the lazy boy for the first 3 weeks after baby #2 arrived. She is beautiful!!!

  39. Kate

    Maybe I’m just not reading it right, then? I just can’t make this sentence make sense in my brain: “If a combination of a few freezer meals plus grandma deliveries of everything from soup to lasagna to Seamless.com order screen by now.”

  40. Susan

    Like Cindy, I went for the baby pic first. Dagnabbit if that title didn’t make me kick my toes in the ground and say “dang.” Wish it said, “Up for grabs,” but I understand if you want to keep her. Much as I love chinese food, she looks more delicious. You must nibble her every chance you get. Congrats again!!

  41. Katy

    So, this sauce looks fine and all, Deb, but I’ve been putting noodles under the “sugar snap salad with miso dressing” from your book for years. Don’t tell me you haven’t tried that? It’s awesome! That salad + soba + chicken = our favorite lunch of all time, make it probably once a month.

    Of course, I do appreciate that you’re giving us a more Chinese-inflected sauce now to go with that more Japanese-inflected one–and of course, I’ll be trying this ASAP.

  42. deb

    Lisa — I’ve made it with them before; not a problem.

    Kate — Oh no, you’re reading it right. It was a broken permalink around the Seamless.com gobbling a few words that would have made the sentence read correctly. I was checking the sentence from the internal UI so I didn’t see it was rendering incorrectly. I should sleep more or something! Now fixed, I hope.

    Janae — Oh, it is still very hard. Like, they’re so tiny and cute and amazing but also there’s so much crying and not sleeping? Anyway, her hair is light brown almost blondish, and already curly. I was just SHOCKED when I saw it, as if I’d totally forgotten that my own husband has light brown hair and occasionally gets to contribute genetic characteristics to our offspring too.

    Mel — Thanks, done and done.

    Beth — Yum. I honestly cannot think of one great cold noodle dish I’ve had in NYC in the last few years. I’m probably not looking in the right places. Or I need to move to Boston (I mean, between that truck and Cutty’s alone…)

    sfbeee — Maybe? It began while I was pregnant and basically a lot of food was ick but cilantro was less ick than usual? (I realized that when I made this.) I still don’t like a fistful of it straight, but I’m more tolerant of it in a blend of other things. Also, I’m growing it! Since I do sometimes need a tablespoon or more chopped and it’s annoying to buy a whole bundle for such a small amount, or to have some for my husband’s portion, as he loves it, although it’s coming along very slowly (see pot in 2nd photo) since I started from seed.

  43. Becky

    I am 5 months pregnant, it’s hot outside, and I didn’t even know this is EXACTLY what I was crazing until you posted it! It came together in a snap, and blew my mind with its sheer deliciousness! Thank you, Deb! My only changes were to use tamari instead of soy sauce (so I used a bit less – just over 2 tbsp as tamari is sooo salty), I thinned out the sauce with a bit of water, and added cold sliced chicken. Probably going to raid the fridge for some more right now…

  44. Gail

    Hi Deb I absolutely love you and your blog and follow it religiously! I was hoping you might have an idea for a special and boozy birthday cake for an 18th birthday (I’m in Australia so perfectly legal and almost mandatory!).
    Thanks so much!
    P. S congratulations on your baby your children are amazing!

  45. Flynn

    I always wanted to like sesame noodles, but I just don’t like wheat pasta. I know weird, right? This recipe is genius; why didn’t I think of using rice noodles?! I made this last night and pickled the cucumbers for a few minutes, added some bean sprouts, thinly sliced radish and a squirt of lime juice. so good. thanks!

  46. This looks amazing. I’ve been craving the Bun noodles I used to always order from the Vietnamese place near me in the Bay Area. I haven’t found a good replacement here in Scotland yet, but this would fix the craving, I think!

  47. deb

    liz — Yes. And last night, we had an actual first cucumber from my garden to use and it was funky-shaped and the coins looked like splats. My son was delighted. (Yes, I know, you didn’t ask any of this.)

    Gail — How about a red wine chocolate cake? In the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, it’s actually a three-layer cake with a mascarpone filling.

  48. Karen T.

    Made this last night and it was perfect. The only addition I made was I added a tablespoon or so of fish sauce to my pile of bowl of chopped cucumber, mint, cilantro, serranos, and peanuts. Mixed that up and piled it on top of the sauced noodles. Soooooo good. Thanks for another fabulous recipe!

  49. Lisa

    Thanks for the soba tip. I made this tonight with soba and I added some grated carrots and green onions. It was so delicious! I also threw in a squeeze of sriracha. So yum and when I added up the calories it wasn’t too bad, under 500.

  50. Omigosh, Deb! I’m eating these for the third meal in a row, voluntarily! They’re so good, and quick. Thank you! I added heirloom red pepper and avocado to mine today, and it’s pretty stellar.

  51. Minik

    Too much cuteness going on with that tiny hand in the photo!
    Sigh, my husband doesn’t like cold meals – weirdo. Have to make this one for myself I guess. All for myself ;)
    Comment 59, mary – you have to click on the linkzz! You’re welcome.

  52. Erica

    I had bought a huge box of organic edamame noodles at Costco a while back and promptly forgot about them. I found them the other day and decided to use them with this sauce. They are really bizarre looking threads of green delicacy-breaking as I pulled them out of the package. The noodles cooked up quickly and thank goodness this is an assertive sauce as I’m not sure I would have liked the noodles with something simple like garlic and butter. They soaked up this sauce beautifully. But as I’m eating them I’m thinking…”mmm, sort of the texture of tofu skins….DUH!!!!” VERY yummy bowl. VERY yummy baby! Congrats Deb! Keep doing that thing you do, recipes, cute kids, we’re all here cheering you on!

  53. I’ve been dying for something Asian…and here it is! Best part…gluten-free! I don’t even have to figure out any tricky GF substitutions! This is a keeper…will definitely try it soon… :)

  54. Anne

    I’m going to make these tonight; I’ll assuage my August CSA guilt by making zucchini noodles in lieu of rice noodles!

  55. Tracy

    We made these last night, and they were fantastic! We used coarsely grated carrots in lieu of peanuts, which worked quite well. Thanks for another weeknight keeper!

  56. Erin

    I made this last night for dinner! It is such a good dressing thanks for the recipe! I added chicken and some carrots for my kids to make it a little heartier. They loved it!

  57. Gerley

    I made this last night- cause when you post a new recipe THAT’S what’s for dinner next ( I make exceptions for desserts) and we really enjoyed it. My husband thought the sauce was perfect I thought it could do with some more….brightness?
    I see you reading these comments and actually responding so if you have a moment between staring/nuzzling/cooing at adorable Anna and taking care of Jacob: Do you think a splash of lime would work well? That was my only idea and I wondered if you, who actually knows her stuff, had a better one to try.
    I love how this can be a “have in pantry/just buy a cucumber dish” for all the days when you are uninspired- it was simple yet delicious.

  58. Maro

    this was perfect! i made it last night, though i had raided my entire vegetable stash for the previous meal cooked this week. soooo…. no veggies (naughty!) but so much deliciousness. made it with some quick-sauteed chicken with chinese 5-spice blend and it made for a very speedy and tasty meal. can’t wait for lunch leftovers!

  59. Wendy

    Cooking in the hinterlands of Montana, it can be a challenge to find “common” pantry ingredients, so I was more than pleasantly surprised when the grocery store in our closest town, population about 1,000, had both the rice sticks and the chili garlic sauce. I made this for dinner a couple nights ago and we both loved it. The dressing would go well on almost any salad. I subbed almond butter for the peanut butter and used chopped cashews in place of chopped peanuts. This will become regular item on our menu for hot summer days when real cooking and heating up the kitchen are not appealing options. Thanks for yet another tasty recipe.

  60. Tristan

    I made this without tahini because I couldn’t find any. Just doubled up on peanut butter (used the natural kind) and was liberal with the sesame oil. It was delicious! Just required a little extra wisking to smooth out the sauce. Thanks for the recipe, it’s a new favorite!

  61. Rachel

    This is so good – I’ve made it with different variations of noodles and veggies twice since you posted it. I’m thinking of making a big batch of the sauce to have on hand I love it so much. Do you think the sauce would keep well in the fridge? For how long? Thanks!!!

  62. This looks great! I have a question – where do you buy this tahini?
    I moved from Israel about 18 months ago and I cant find the exact tahini that you have in the photo.
    This was one of my favorites back home!

  63. deb

    Alex — It’s an obsession, isn’t it? A friend told me it was the best tahini “in the world” and that I’d never use that Joyva stuff again if I tried it. Are you in NYC? There’s a small store on St. Marks between 1st and 2nd called Holyland Market [link] that sells this and probably a lot of other foods that you miss. Not that I could read the bottle (there’s not a single word in English on it). Anyway, they pretty much always have it in stock.

  64. Laura Jane

    I made this the same day you posted it (clearly the recipe had an effect!). I followed the no peanut version in the interest of not poisoning my allergic boyfriend. That sauce is FANTASTIC! I used soba noodles in the interest of keeping them whole grain, and I sauteed some fish to go with this (which I basted in a mixture of the soy and chili sauces). The next day I put the leftover dressing (I only made half the noodles) on a lazy salad of julienned cucumbers and carrots with some chicken. I wish I had made 3x the amount of sauce for fridge storage. Seriously, such a winner!

  65. Helen

    Yum, with the rice noodles, this sounds is so like the “dry” noodle bowl I get at the Vietnamese noodle restaurant. I shared the recipe with my DIL, in hopes that she will make it, lol. We would all love this.

  66. Laurie

    Inspired by your post and our love of noodles, I made your version of Cold Noodles with Peanut Lime Chicken. It was a huge hit and my family has already requested that I make it again. I served it just a bit differently so I thought I would share. I put all the veggies together in a bowl and added some of the dipping sauce and some of the peanut sauce and stirred well. I used all three herbs and used quite a bit of them so I mixed half with the veggies and half with the noodles. I also added a little bit of toasted sesame seed oil to the noodles to keep them from sticking, and a couple of extra scallions. To serve it I just put the noodles on a plate, added the veggies and chicken on top, added the sauces and garnished with peanuts. It was so good. Thank you for a terrific recipe!

  67. Brittani

    Just made this for a light dinner! I only had lo mein noodles, I love their texture! And I only had a garlic/ginger paste that I use for Indian cooking, but used that and the sauce was absolutely delicious, also, didn’t have herbs or peanuts but topped with cold avocado and cashews. I’ll make this ALL the time!!!

  68. Kari

    Awesome post, thanks Deb! It did make me think of a recipe request I’d love – pelmeni! I have a recipe but I’m betting yours is better. I have no Russian heritage myself, but I lived there ~10 years ago and I’ve been trying to recreate the amazing homemade pelmeni I had the pleasure of trying ever since. It’s definitely a labor intensive meal, but sometime in the future I would loooove some tips on pulling it off with American ingredients. Congrats on your daughter, she is wonderful :)

  69. Ellen

    I’m making this and don’t have chili-garlic paste. I have Szechwan chili sauce, sriracha sauce and hot chili oil. Combination of all of them or which would be a good substitute?

  70. Rachel

    I made this with an entire giant cucumber just for my bowl! It made it more like a cucumber salad with strands of nutty noodles tangled in. Also added some mandolined radishes. All from the the farmers market, which I think makes it totally acceptable as far as the Summer Produce Moral Imperative goes.

    Also, I didn’t know that about soy sauce being essentially gluten free! Most soy sauce I see contains wheat, but I guess the fermentation/hydrolyzation process breaks down the gluten protein such that some people with gluten sensitivity won’t react?? Too bad it doesn’t help me much; soy allergy as well! I use Coconut Aminos to substitute for soy sauce. It’s not a perfect sub – it’s too sweet – but it’s much closer than anything else out there.

  71. These were Spot. On. I’ve had such a hankering for peanut butter noodles, most intensely during Passover this year and made a big bowlful of them as soon as I could, rather than the traditional pizza. But they weren’t quite right. For years I’ve been trying to make them just so and haven’t yet nailed it. Until this recipe. Belle of the ball at the potluck we went to on Friday night. I have to admit I cut back on the sesame oil — I find it always to be a bit rude — and they were great. Just perfect.

    Incidentally, those noodles from the Bon Me truck are great. I get frustrated by their sandwiches because they automatically come with pork pate so I have to be really careful when I order. And Cutty’s? Oh dear lord. They are about a block from the pediatrician’s so I intentionally book all the girls’ appointments at lunchtime. I mean, if I’m already in the area…I am not a meat person, and definitely not a roast beef person, but that sandwich. THAT sandwich. Possibly the best sandwich in Boston. That, or the fried cauliflower, broccoli rabe, provolone with pickled peppers at Strip T’s. It’s a tough call.

  72. Brianne

    This was just what we needed. In fact, it was a double smitten night, with me making these noodles and my husband making a bee sting cake for my son’s two year old birthday party. Everything was delicious. Thank you for your terrific recipes, and congrats on your new addition.

  73. JP

    Just whipped up the sauce to use as a salad dressing on a bowl of salad ingredients and some blanched veggies and it is delicious just used as a dressing. So fast to make and can’t wait to try it on noodles too. I only had crunchy peanut butter, but it did not seem to make a difference. Really good! Thanks!

  74. CarolJ

    Made it tonight for supper using Chinese egg noodles (wasn’t able to find rice sticks) and loved it. Husband was inexplicably unenthusiastic. Fine. I’ve got my lunch for tomorrow, already licking my chops.

  75. Jayne

    I discovered that you can approximate the Asian toasted sesame paste by gently heating tahini in a small skillet and mashing and stirring it until it darkens a little and gets fragrant. I was thinking of other sauces and curry pastes that get heated up this way and was happy to find that doing it for tahini worked really well.

  76. Jeni

    Yum! Made this with almonds and almond butter, as it’s what I had on hand, then added some lemon and broiled steak. Perfect quick, cool dinner for the end of an August day :) Cheers to you, the hubs, and the kiddos – may there be longer blocks of sleep in the not-too-distant future!

  77. Yesterday we harvested our first cucumber and today my 15y old daughter made this for lunch. We all liked it and even prefered it to the Peanut Sesame Noodles recipe which has long been a family favorite!

  78. Juliet

    I made these a few nights ago and they were great. I also fried up some tofu (in coconut oil, yum) to put on top (and because my daughter will eat them), which was a great addition.

  79. jan

    I wish we could print the recipes from a print button- your format makes it hard to print. I can’t wait to try this…. looks amazing!!

    1. deb

      jan — There’s a print button. At the bottom of each recipe before the comments begin, just click on the word “Print” to go to a simplified template.

  80. Joanne

    Amazing dish, but make sure you don’t do what I did. Use CHILI sesame oil. I wasn’t paying close enough attention when grabbing pantry items. I wondered why my husband kept saying it was so tasty but hot, as I was cleaning up in the kitchen. I thought he was being sensitive as I only put a teaspoon of chili paste in it.

  81. Christine

    Wow. This was fantastic. I couldn’t find anything “toasted” but didn’t miss it. This will now be what my family eats for the rest of this week of +35 C temperatures. I added julienne’d carrots and a ton of cilantro. I want to toss in some green onions next time.

  82. Ann

    This looks so light and lovely, especially with the rice noodles! When my peanut sauce is too thick, I like to dilute with a dash of jasmine tea, which adds a subtle fragrance.

  83. Latif B

    Tried this recipe today and It was FANTASTIC. I added some shrimp marinated in Sesame Oil and Sriracha. Will definitely do it again next week when I have family from UK. Thanks

  84. Cathy

    Love your lightened up cold rice noodle recipe and all the variations…my kind of food. As someone with Celic Disease, I have to note that most Chinese-style soy sauces available at the grocery do have gluten in them and some more than trace amounts. Japanese tamari is gluten free and a good alternative to the Chinese style soy sauces. Even trace amounts of gluten are unhealthy for those with Celiac Disease.

  85. juliana

    We made these almost immediately after you posted them. Delicious and a great thing to make at the beginning of the week for lunches all week.

    My only change would be to add some crispy tofu to the top! We also did a fried egg on top when we ate this at home. Delicious.

  86. First of all…longest list of comments ever. Love it. But also, this is something I’m going to have to do. Was also inspired to check out the charred corn tacos from 4 years ago. Thanks for sharing.

  87. Kim

    Trying to pack healthy lunches on Sunday for the week, I have been experimenting with zucchini noodles made with a kitchen tool called a vegetti. I made my noodles, then used the almond pesto in Deb’s book. Results–delish, kept perfectly in the fridge for 4 days! Thinking this sesame noodle sauce would be a wonderful thing to do with veggie noodles–any thoughts?

  88. Lipstick Librarian

    Deb, I tried this using Sunflower Seed Butter (life-threatening allergy to peanuts & nuts) and garnished with toasted & Salted Sunflower seeds and fresh Cilantro. It was a great success. Thank you for sharing

  89. Rose

    I made this for dinner earlier this week and it was a revelation in my stuffy kitchen. It was proclaimed a success by my boyfriend in between bites at an outdoor folk concert, and I loved that it was almost effortless. Just popped on NYT and noticed Sam Sifton just ran a almost identical recipe for sesame takeout noodles on Monday.. quite often I feel like the NYT staff is inspired by this site and I see extremely similar takes only a few days later!

  90. This is a great recipe for a light summer meal, and it doesn’t take long to make. I am going to shop for the ingredients and make this over the weekend. Thanks for sharing!

  91. Tina @ombresque

    Holy mother of god, I made this tonight (doubling the peanut butter since I didn’t have tahini) and it was so good! More than that, it just really hit the spot. And so easy to make! I will never order delivery sesame noodles again when I have that craving.

  92. Em

    Ohhhh. Must make this. I used to live nearish Irving Place and there was (is? it’s been a while) a huge Chinese restaurant there that had THE BEST cold sesame noodles. I dream about them.

    Did not know about the difference btw Chinese sesame paste and tahini! Thanks!

  93. Kristin

    Thanks for this recipe. It was delicious. It’s going to be a regular in my house. Only had one tbsp of sesame oil, so replaced the second with extra tahini. Added red bell pepper, and used cilantro and scallions to top it. I bought the chili garlic sauce special, which I don’t usually do for a recipe, but it was so worth it. Wonderful!

  94. Des

    I made this the other night and the sauce was delish! However, I royally screwed up the noodles…the package said to soak for 45 minutes which just didn’t seem right to me as I thought this was an “easy” dish, so I boiled water and let them soak for a while and NOTHING happened, so I put them on the stove and then they overcooked. Then I realized I didn’t have sesame oil (OF COURSE the bottle was empty in the fridge!), so I subbed some olive oil and they all stuck together anyway. SO! First time rice noodle cook here, but I have learned all of these lessons! We ate them anyway and I’m going to prepare this dish again very soon!

  95. Mimi (another one :)

    Thansk for the recipe! I made it today and it was yummy… next time I will replace some of the Tahini with fish sauce, I like it salty. And maybe I’ll add some fine carrot sticks tonight to the rest of the noodles (Just trying it out).

  96. Abbe David

    This was a delicious summertime dinner!

    There were only two things I did differently… I used cellophane noodles (it’s what I had) and served some grilled chicken (only with salt and pepper) on top to make it a dinner sized portion for 4. I doubled the sauce when I made it because I knew I was going to be dipping cucumber slices in it snacking while I worked in the kitchen and I think cellophane noodles really needed a little extra sauce.

    Thank you for another phenomenal recipe!

  97. Jane

    This didn’t quite work for me, maybe because the instructions on my pad thai style rice noodles said “soak for 45 minutes in warm water”. Well that didn’t work. Tried soaking in hot water 10 minutes times two, still too al dente. So the finished dish was still too tough, but when we heated up the leftovers the noodles were fine. Good thing I wasn’t under time pressure for this quick dish!

    Same problem as 143 Des!

  98. deb

    Re, soaking rice noodles — I wonder if you both used the same brand and if there’s a typo on the package. Mine said soak 30 minutes then boil for a couple minutes (5? 10? can’t remember), but it was definitely a two-part process. I’ve also done it before without the presoaking in a pinch, but never without the boiling step.

  99. Natasha

    Love, love, love! Made it after a long day bike riding and even the boys downed it without complaints! Thanks. Now rummaging through your blog for the next family favourite!!

  100. Kate

    Finally made this – lightly dressed the noodles with the sesame sauce, then topped with a huge salad of cucumber, baby bok choy, red pepper with a much lighter rice wine vinegar dressing. It was indeed perfect for a hot summer night.

  101. Fast? Easy? Not in my kitchen! Grating ginger is never fast and easy, nor is stirring that Tahini, nor chopping cilantro, garlic, parsley, mint, peanuts…….what a nightmare, particularly the same Tahini you used. Mine was like a block of cement covered by lots of oil. HOWEVER, my picky, picky husband declared this a “perfect dinner”, so today I will work on making the dressing and garnishes take less than an hour to assemble. Also, your photo shows the cucumbers undressed in the bowl. Are they supposed to be served undressed? And which brand is your mandolin? Mine doesn’t make nice wafers like yours, so I need a new one.

    Many thanks for recipes that are always perfect exactly as you write them.

    1. deb

      Bahb — Glad it was ultimately a hit. I didn’t dress my cukes, mostly because I liked the contrast but I know they ended up with dressing on them too. I love this beriner slicer; it’s actually rare that I see the price as low as I paid many years ago ($20)! They’re reliable and store flat. But watch your fingers, of course.

  102. nadira

    Deb, it was such a wonderful recipe! I just ate a bowlful of this goodness, delicious yet light. Chinese restaurant of our country do not serve this kind of noodles. So it was a whole new experience for my taste buds. The sauce was awesome although I added soy sauce little by little and ended up using 1.5 tbsp. And instead of tahini I made a toasted sesame paste. Also roasted a red pepper, thinly sliced it and added to noodles to compensate for chili garlic paste(my father is afraid of chilies). Lastly had it with omelets. Thanks :)

  103. Theresa

    This recipe is a winner! We all love it, even the 8 year old! We substitute coconut aminos for the the soy sauce (as my daughter is allergic to soy). Yum yum yum!

  104. kathy

    Made this for dinner and it was super easy and tasty! I used fresh chinese noodles instead and chili sesame oil cause that was what i had. The flavor is just great! :)

  105. Michelle

    I used to eat something like this in Taipei regularly. But it also had some kind of wasabi paste/sauce and shredded chicken that you would mix in just before eating. It is one of the dishes I still crave after 3 years. I will have to try this.

  106. Finally made these! The sauce is awesome!

    For the commenters craving more acidity, its important to note that Chinese Rice Vinegar (also known as Chinkiang vinegar) is much stronger, savorier, and glossier than the standard Japanese rice vinegar and is 100% worth seeking out. Its the vinegar you find on tables at dumpling places! You can find it at any Chinese grocery store. It has a yellow label and is a dark color.

    I first learned about it on The Wednesday Chef when she talks about Fuchsia Dunlop’s Sichuanese Celery and Beef. Also, an amazing frugal, last minute recipe as long as you keep the vinegar and Sichuan bean paste around.

  107. Marta

    I was impelled to comment because this recipe and I are in love. Since discovering it recently thanks to the FB feed, we’ve had it every single week. It is damn tasty, easy to prepare, and quick.
    For even quicker prep, I make the dressing in advance and keep it in a jar in the fridge.
    We like our noodles extra saucy, so I double the dressing.
    I also serve with it with a simple pan-fried chicken – filleted in half, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and pan friend in a little olive oil. Top the whole thing with cashews as we always have those around.
    Serves us two for dinner, and makes the best leftover lunch the next day.

  108. Mia Case

    You are a genius. I do a similar recipe (great minds!) that uses chunky avocados instead of peanut butter, chopped thai chilis, and squeezings of fresh lime.

  109. Kimberly

    This noodle bowl is delicious! I made the recipe today for the 1st time and will be making this again (soon)!! I added thinly sliced red Thai peppers & scallions as a garnish. I also added a cup of green beans to the boiling noodles for the last 2 mins of cooking. Made dressing exactly as Deb listed. So fresh & light & healthy & flavorful. I will be bringing this to my next summer ‘pot luck’ style gathering. A crowd pleaser for sure. Thanks Deb.

  110. Jenna

    I made this last night “salad bar style” (all components in their own serving dishes) so that the children and grownups could put together their meals in their own preferred proportions. It’s my trick to get the kids to try more complex meals and it works! We also had leftover grilled chicken which I sliced thinly and it was great with the noodles. I did add some lime juice to the dressing (before I even noticed comments about it!) and thought it was perfect. I keep natural peanut butter in the pantry and it was fine here. The only note I have is that with the combination of low-sodium soy sauce, unsalted peanut butter, and unsalted chopped peanuts, my chilled leftovers for lunch were a little bland – nothing that an extra splash of soy sauce couldn’t fix (although when I served it for dinner, it didn’t need any extra, so not really a problem, just a thought for those who might also have leftovers). Delicious!

  111. B

    this recipe popped up on my facebook feed and decided to make it for lunch! Really tasty, I added some gochujang and lime. The gochujang added a great back note of flavour. Next time (because there will definitely be a next time!) I want to add in some roasted thai green chilis

  112. Sara

    There’s chili-garlic paste in this tantalizing recipe. Do you make it yourself, or is there a particular brand that’s really good?
    Can’t wait to make this during the weekend!

  113. Kim W

    I am now making these with Zoodles (raw) and it’s just as good and perfect for the steamy summer. No cooking at all. I also have been adding chilled shrimp. It’s divine.

  114. Mandy

    I made this!!! It’s seriously so satisfying. I made exactly as instructed but I added sautéed shiitake mushrooms and bean sprouts because I love toppings and to add some more greens. Perfect for summer.

    1. Sara U

      I also used soba noodles, and green beans, fresh zuchini, etc in-season veg. This sauce is SO good!! And sooooo tasty cold! Totally making again! You could out this sauce on anything and it would perk it up! Excellent recipe!

  115. Jess

    This was great but I added cut-up roast chicken and probably too many veggies, so I doubled the sauce recipe, even with only 8 ounces of noodles. I’d be surprised if there’s enough sauce (for my taste, anyway) as written. Easy problem to fix!

  116. Sarah

    Substitution ideas for chili garlic paste. I tried three local strores. They did have gochujang- same thing? If not – adjustment suggestions? Thanks.

  117. Charlie

    I made this! So delicious. Vague measurements worked. I regretted not putting oil on the noodles while they were warm. But it was scrumptious. Made extra cooked veggies to go beside.