Superlative Sesame Noodles

the dressing:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons black sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons hot chile (sesame) oil
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame paste*
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 1/2 inch knob ginger, grated

8 oz . skinny noodles* cooked, drained and cooled

to serve
toasted sesame seeds
chopped scallions
seedless cucumber slices or ribbons
steamed snow peas

In a small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients until smooth. Toss with noodles, cucumber and snow peas then sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds.

* AKA tahini (not the super light tahini-make sure the label says it was made with toasted sesame seeds, not raw) or use Chinese sesame paste
**Somen, lo mein, soba, even thin spaghetti would all work.

My thoughts:

I love sesame noodles but always hated recipes that called for peanut butter. It just seemed wrong somehow. Then I got to thinking: if the taste I really wanted was sesame so why not just use sesame paste? It serves the same purpose (helping with the emulsion of the sauce and adding some flavor depth) and is roughly the same texture. In fact, to take a not-so-wild stab at it, I think that whole reason peanut butter is even in sesame noodles was because it is easier to find than sesame paste and not because of any ancient sesame noodle tradition. Now that tahini and sesame paste is at nearly every grocery store (one near me has 5 different brands of the stuff included a nice organic toasted variety) there is no reason not to use it. You can also find it in most Asian markets, along with the sesame and chile oils.

And you know what? These were the best sesame noodles I ever had. Who needs peanut butter? Packed with sesame flavor but not overwhelmingly so, with just enough heat to keep it interesting. Plus the cucumbers and cold noodles give the dish a hot-cold aspect that I love.


  1. This sounds soooooooo yummy and easy.
    I think I will try it tonight.

    Quick question, how did the Tahini and Soy sauce mixture taste? Do you think I can add it as a new middle/far eastern dressing?

  2. It tastes great. Sesame paste is used in a lot of Chinese cooking.

  3. Saaaaay. Where did you get the nifty cheater-chopsticks? We could use a pair of these since my toddler hasn’t yet mastered the technique like Mommy and Daddy. And since we eat w/chopsticks in our house quite a bit…

  4. Maggi: In Chinatown, but CB2 sells them. They’re called “clothespin” chopsticks.

  5. I love sesame noodles and can’t wait to give this recipe a try!

  6. I never get tired of noodles dishes, I love them. This sounds delicious!

  7. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I had sesame noodles when I was about 15 at a church pot luck. They were the BEST thing I had ever had, problem was I couldn’t figure out who brought them to get the recipe, and all the recipes I have ever found had PB.

  8. These noodles look delicious and simple. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. This sounds simple and tasty.

  10. no surprise these sesame noodles were the best you’ve had – they look MARVELOUS!!!

  11. great idea. I tried the peanut butter thing once and hated it, but this sounds just right.

  12. What a great simple way to make sesame noodles, I totally agree with you about the peanut butter. And I personally like rice noodles, this sounds like a great way to prepare them. Thanks!

  13. A slurry of miso paste and tahini is a good peanut-butter substitute (white miso is best – add teaspoons of tahini to desertspoons of miso until the desired ratio is reached – your tastebuds are the guide.)

    This is especially nice smeared into grilled mochi, with some small cubes of silken tofu and a dab of umeboshi paste.

  14. Yum, Rachel. I am making this on Sunday (because I already have my meals scheduled through then, of course).

  15. This is the most delish thing I ve had in ages ! You are brilliant !

  16. Hi. I made these noodles a while back and loved the recipe. Would you mind if I posted it on my food blog (my picture with a link to your original recipe here)? I made them the same but served them along with chicken and spring rolls.

  17. Sure Kayla, just link back here.

  18. I just made this with leftover brown rice stick noodles, and I added edamame, broccoli, sugar snap peas, and shitake mushrooms that I had lightly softened with 1 tsp oil in a saute pan for a few minutes. I didn’t have chile oil, so I added some red pepper flakes. Yum!!! Wait til my boyfriend finds it…it won’t last long 🙂 Thanks for the fabulous recipe!

  19. Hi Rachel! Would regular sesame oil work in place of the black? I'm not sure about the difference, although I've seen it at the Asian market… Thanks!

  20. It should be fine, I don't think the flavor is as rich but it will work!

  21. Thanks, Rachel! Good to know! I'll still be sure to pick up the black sesame oil next time I see it.