Posted by: A Part of the Solution | September 2, 2010

Szechuan Sesame Noodles

Way back in the nineties, I started out working for Gail’s Vegetarian Catering (soon to be Green Plates Catering under new, yet fabulous, management) as Gail’s Tuesday morning noodle girl. At the time, she was delivering a weekly assortment of packaged yummies for refrigerated cases in natural food stores from Baltimore to Virginia. Her best seller was her rendition of Szechuan Sesame Noodles. And boy, o boy were they ever tasty.

I mean, you’re talking to the person who got up at 5 am on Tuesdays to get the dog walked before Gail picked me up and we sped to the rented commercial kitchen she’d found to make and package her wares. And I made noodles by the ten pound case, sometimes many multiples of those cases. Even so, I still start to salivate when I think about those Szechuan Sesame Noodles. Anyone would believe I’d be all tired of them. And yet, that never happened.

This is not Gail’s recipe for those way-too-addictive Szechuan Sesame Noodles. If I shared that recipe with you, I’d be an accomplice before the fact to higher cholesterol readings, and inevitable weight gain. Instead, I’m sharing my current version of those lovely noodles.

You’ll have to waylay Gail if you want her real recipe–and I warn you, she would take it to her grave rather than share. Those Szechuan Sesame Noodles have been her ace up her sleeve for dozens of years now.

And yes, these are vegan. Change the noodle type and they’re wheat-free too.

Szechuan Sesame Noodles

1/3 cup peanut butter, 2.4 oz, I like smooth–but you have free-will and a jar in your pantry you should use

2 TBSP tahini or sesame paste

3 TBSP warm water

1 1/2 tsp dark sesame oil, extra points for spicy

5 TBSP soy sauce (get over it, this is for the whole pound of noodles)

2 TBSP rice wine vinegar, or apple cider, or spicy, or what you have on hand

1 TBSP asian hot sauce, or less if you don’t like the heat (!)

1 TBSP sugar

1 TBSP grated ginger

4 cloves of garlic

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1 lb of noodles, like spaghetti–or linguine, or rice, or bean, or buckwheat or whatever you prefer–but not threads or angel hair

4 sliced green onions

Ancillary Toppings (not crucial, but really, really rewarding):

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced, peeled if you’re feeling it–of course

1 handful of blanched green beans, sliced on the diagonal into 1″ segments

1 large carrot, scrubbed hard and sliced very thin, or grated with the largest hole on your box grater

3 jalapeno peppers, or 4 cherry bombs, or other medium hot peppers, seeded and sliced very thin

Get five  or six quarts of water boiling hard. Dump the noodles in and stir them until the water returns to the boil. Set the timer for a non-al dente finish to the noodles. They’re meant to be soft here.

Put all the ingredients listed above the noodles into a blender or food processor and let the mixture become as smooth as it will get. Scrape it down and give it another whirl. Check for seasoning (is it spicy enough? Salty enough? Zingy enough?) and correct if necessary.

Rinse the noodles under cold running water. Drain them and toss with a little extra sesame oil. Now add the sesame glop. Use your hands to lift the noodles through the glop and let them drop from your hands back into your work bowl. Do this until the noodles are uniformly coated in the glop.

Sprinkle the green onions and any other veggies you’ve prepared on top. Grab chopsticks and get busy!

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