Sesame Noodles with Chili Oil and Scallions

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There are as many recipes for cold Asian noodles as there are people in the world. That isn’t true. But it sometimes feels true. Versions of this vaguely Asian (pan-Asian?) dish (does anyone know the origins? or when this because popular in the states?) pop up on restaurant menus and recipes for it make regular rotations through food magazines. They always remind me of the 90’s and eating at restaurants that felt cosmopolitan because they had this or Chinese Chicken Salad on the menu (Wolfgang Puck, yo!). I love these type of noodles and am on a life-long quest to put together the perfect recipe. Whenever I find a new version to try, I consider it a research opportunity.

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This is another recipe from the current issue of Bon Appetit. Can we stop for a minute and talk about Bon Appetit? After months of watching it spiral into food magazine hell, it seems to be returning to form. Or at least returning to the realm of food magazines. It has held onto its handsome new design but threw out much of the star-fucking that was making it totally inane and unbearable (Armie Hammer eats at McDonalds! Kelly Westler doesn’t like food! Fashion!). The last couple of issues feel like the magazine has gotten back on track and is headed in a better direction. It is nice to see. Although, even this month Patrick Dempsey was interviewed- but at least he seems to like food! Celebrities are just like us, they eat food. In any case, I hope that it continues to improve and focus on food and the people who love it, because, whatever its faults, Bon Appetit is pretty good at choosing and developing recipes. Recipes! Back to the noodles….

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This is among my favorite preparations of this dish. These are some seriously delicious and well-balanced cold noodles and I plan on eating them all summer. The highlight is the chili oil you make and add to the dish. It is spicy, seriously spicy. I want that. I want my lips to burn. I already knew I preferred tahini to peanut butter in these types of recipes, but this confirmed it. Peanut butter can be so heavy and flat tasting, I think the tahini works better with the other ingredients. I didn’t change much about this, I increased the amount of scallions and added more of the chili oil than called for, but you can adjust the spice to your liking. Also, this isn’t reflected below, but next time I would increase all of the dressing ingredients by 25% so that this uses the entire box of spaghetti. I hate when recipes only use a portion of the box. Otherwise, this is some salty summer noodle goodness.

Sesame Noodles with Chili Oil and Scallions (recipe from Bon Appetit)

  • 4 scallions, whites and greens separated, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 12 ounces thin ramen noodles or spaghettini
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
Cook scallion whites, vegetable oil, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and pepper in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until oil is sizzling and scallions are golden brown, 12–15 minutes; let chili oil cool in saucepan.
Meanwhile, cook noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente; drain. Rinse under cold water and drain well.
Whisk tahini, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and 2–3 tablespoons chili oil (depending on desired heat) in a large bowl; season with salt. Add noodles and toss to coat. Top with scallion greens and drizzle with more chili oil.

51 comments to “Sesame Noodles with Chili Oil and Scallions”

  1. I make a version of this, with soba noodles (buckwheat noodles which take 4 minutes to cook, before being plunged into cold water). I add sesame oil, chili oil, ground szechuan peppercorns, cilantro and scallions. Love your blog.

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