In Search of.......Good Sesame Noodles

Every year I try a new recipe for Sesame Noodles. I love the concept of peanut butter and pasta together, and kids seem to love this dish.

I just can't seem to find the right one.
Last time around, I tried Barefoot Contessa's recipe, didn't love it.

Last weekend for my niece Olivia's 5th birthday party, I tried the recipe from the Trader Joe's cookbook, Cooking with all Things Trader Joe's, which I found on line, which obviously, uses all ingredients from Trader Joe's.

Sounded easy.

The dressing called for 1/4 cup of creamy peanut butter, 2 tbsp sesame oil, 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of Trader Ming's Teriyaki Marinade.

The other ingredients were thin spaghetti, cucumber, shredded carrots and green onions, garnish w/ chopped peanuts.
I added chopped red bell pepper and cilantro for color and flavor.

Though it had great peanut butter flavor, the sauce was way too thick for the spaghetti noodles. I had to add more water and a bit of canola oil to help it along.

It was good, but not great.

I may give up on this dish, since I just can't find the right one.
How about if I just skip the peanut butter next time and just make a sesame dressing?

If you have a great recipe for this dish, do tell, or I am filing this under PASTA AND PEANUT BUTTER ARE NOT MEANT TO BE FRIENDS.


Julia said…
When I make peanut dipping sauce for satay, I roast raw peanuts, and then grind them with everything else (including chicken broth to get the right consistency). The peanut flavor is there, but far superior to peanut butter... IMHO :)

5 tbs. fresh ginger, chopped
3 tbs. lemon grass, chopped
3 tbs. garlic, chopped
3 tbs. shallots, chopped
1 tbs peanut oil
chicken stock
6 oz. raw peanuts, toasted
1 tbs. mirin
½ lime, juiced
2 tbs. rice wine vinegar
3 tbs. soy sauce

1. Sweat 3 tbs. of ginger with lemon grass, garlic and shallots in peanut oil
2. Puree above in a food processor with peanuts, remaining ginger, and chicken stock to thin.
3. Season with lime juice, rice vinegar, mirin and soy sauce. Adjust seasoning to taste.
4. Stir in fresh cilantro
I'm with you - I usually end up with a big lump. So, I've spent the summer focusing on stir fries and soba noodles. It's not the same, but at least I feel like I've accomplished something edible!
kat said…
We have the same issue! We tried a different recipe for a similar thing last week & it wasn't right either
kat said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
lisa is cooking said…
I made a version last fall (or winter?) from an old issue of Living. It's on my site. It was delicious but time consuming to prep. There's also a Tyler Florence recipe that people rave about, and I think it's on the FoodNetwork site.
Stef said…
I've made this recipe before with a lot of success. I skipped the hot pepper flakes (kids) and added shredded carrots. Yum!

Cold Sesame Noodles

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon grated ginger root
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 lb linguine
chopped scallions
sesame seeds (to garnish)

4 servings
20 minutes 5 mins prep

In saucepan, mix first 8 ingredients together (soy sauce to chicken broth), stir until thick and smooth.

Cook linguine in salted water until al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water.

Mix linguine and sauce mixture in bowl.

Serve cold or at room temperature with scallions, cucumbers, and sesame seeds as garnish.
The JR said…
I've never made this recipe. The only recipe that I've tried with peanut butter and oriental related is a dipping sauce for spring rolls.

lots of good suggestions - ginger helps and chiles help and so does rice vinegar - otherwise its a play it by taste issue....
Michele said…
I have tried making this many times too but like you, i don't like it too thick. I don't like a lot of peanut butter in it. I like the flavor of it but not overpowering. If you ever come up with THE recipe, let me know!
Carolyn K said…
Like in Stef's recipe, the key to getting the sauce right is mixing it over heat. This is the only way to really meld the flavors and thin the peanut butter, I always thin the sauce with chicken broth to get a good consistency. Also, make sure that you are using DARK sesame oil and TAMARI soy sauce (if you forgo the bottled teriyaki next time) to get the best rich flavors. I usually make a huge batch on the stove, add chicken, and serve warm for dinner. I then chill the numerous leftovers for delicious lunches over the week (they are definitely better cold, but it smells so good that we can’t wait).

Love your blog. Don’t give up on those noodles!
Bob said…
I've had the same problem! The next time I try it I think I might use tahini.
Patsyk said…
Don't give up! I made one awhile back from Ellie Krieger's cookbook that we enjoyed... will find the recipe and email you.
Justin said…
this post reminds me of myself... i have this ideal in my mind of what sesame noodles should be like, based on a dish i tried so long ago, and i swear i've tried every recipe for this at home that i've ever found. i'm always tweaking them and it's never quite perfect. i even try making up the recipes sometimes. i've made a lot of good ones, but never absolutely perfect. and sometimes when people say sesame noodles, they really just mean a sesame oil-based sauce or one with sesame paste, and sometimes they mean peanut noodles, like i think you mean (and I like best). anyway, i'm working on an all noodle cookbook with helen chen to be published in 2010, and that's gonna have some very good recipes, i swear. maybe i'll write about some as a preview since i just stocked up on peanut butter.
I've often find when I try to make them (improvised) getting them to thin out often makes them too tart, which then needs sugar to fix. They're never bad, but they're never quite what I hope. I'm enjoying everyone's recipe suggestions here because I do sympathize.
Jenni said…
It looks yummy! I've never tried peanut butter and sesame but it seems like it could be a pretty good combo!
Dana said…
How about this...make it with soba noodles instead. Soba are supposed to be rinsed after cooking so washing all that starch off would help with the clumping problem and the flavors together are awesome.
Nancy said…
Like you, I have never had much luck with this dish, including Ina's. There is a couple of good ideas in your comment section, however, especially the one with rice vinegar.

I made the Chicken Brushetta last night and it was a big hit, even though the chicken had been marinating in Newman's Own Mesquite & Lime marinade for a day. I also did your Panroasted Eggplant w/Shallot Vinegarette. It was "knock you socks off" wonderful. But do you have any hints about how to use less oil? It really soaked it up. Tasted great, though. I'm doing your favorite summer salad tonight.
Unknown said…
I tried making this once and it was a big flop! Don't worry I have full confidence that you will perfect this dish. I love those buckwheat soba noodles, have you tried those? Adorable niece!
Ciao Chow Linda said…
First of all - the niece is so cute. And how nice of auntie to make a meal for her. I'm not that big on sesame noodles so am of no help whatsoever, but I would have thought Ina Garten's would be great since I love everything I've tried from her cookbooks. I'm sure you'll succeed in getting what you want eventually though.
lydia j. said…
i personally think it's horribly wrong to use regular white pasta for cold asian peanut noodles. maybe next time give either traditional udon or, if you're feeling more adventurous, try buckwheat soba noodles--the texture of the japanese pasta holds up much better and the black color of the buckwheat is really great.
cindy22 said…
Here's the secret...Go to the Asian store and buy sesame paste. That's why they're called sesame noodles, not peanut noodles. It may be hard to find, but believe me, after years of trying peanut butter, I was excited to find this product. Just add a little water and rice vinegar, stir and pour. Then add all your other stuff.
Kathryn Tobias said…
Here's a recipe I've loved for years. It's from 60 Minute Gourmet by Pierre Franey.

Virginia Lee's Chicken and Cold Noodles with Spicy Sauce

1 large chicken breast
6 oz. fine egg noodles
1/4 cup sesame paste (I use Joyva Tahini but I'll go look for sesame paste at the Japanese market now)
3 Tbl. water (I think this is too much)
2 tsp. hot chili oil, optional
3 Tbl. light soy sauce (I use tamari)
2 Tbl. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. plus 1 Tbl. sesame oil
1/4 cup peanut oil
2 Tbl. finely chopped garlic

Bring about 6 cups of water to the boil and add the breast. Do not add salt. When the water returns to the boil, simmer about 10-15 minutes. Remove the breast but save the broth.

Bring the broth to the boil and add the noodles. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes. Drain and run under cold water until chilled. Drain thouroughly and add to a mixing bowl. Add the teaspoon of sesame oil and toss.

Cutting with a knife or using fingers, cut or pull the chicken into fine shreds.

Add the sesame paste to a bowl and add the water, stirring. Add the chili oil, soy sauce, wine vinegar, the tablespoon of sesame oil, peanut oil and garlic.

Arrange the noodles on a serving dish. Cover with the chicken and spoon the sauce over. 4 servings.