My mom whips up sesame noodles on a hot summer night when she doesn’t feel like standing in front of a hot stove. With its nutty, savory sauce that has hints of sweetness and spiciness, this dish is always a crowd-pleaser. You can serve it without any toppings as a side dish; you can top it with fresh produce and serve it as an appetizer at a summer grill party; or you can load it with more toppings to serve as a main, just like my mom does.
The sauce in this dish is so flavorful and versatile that you can use many types of wheat noodles for a great result. For a traditional taste, use lo mein noodles, but Japanese udon and somen noodles also work well with this dish.
The yield for this recipe depends on many factors, such as number of toppings, the type of noodles, and personal taste. This recipe is a good starting point and can generally make two large servings with some fresh produce toppings. Double the amount of the sauce if you plan on using more toppings.
- 4 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste (or unsalted natural peanut butter or tahini)
- 2 to 4 tablespoons warm water
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce (or soy sauce)
- 2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or sugar)
- 2 teaspoons Chili Oil, or to taste (see recipe linked in the headnote)
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 pound (454 g) Handmade Noodles (see recipe linked in the headnote) or fresh wheat noodles or 9 ounces (255 g) dried wheat noodles
- 1 cucumber, julienned, for topping (optional)
- 1 carrot, julienned, for topping (optional)
- 4 radishes, julienned, for topping (optional)
- Toasted white sesame seeds, for garnishing
- Place the sesame paste in a medium bowl and slowly add the warm water, a little at a time, stirring with a silicone spatula until the water is fully incorporated and a smooth paste forms.
- Add each liquid ingredient—the soy sauce, vinegar, maple syrup, chili oil, and sesame oil—one at a time, stirring to fully incorporate each ingredient before adding the next one.
- Add the ginger, garlic, and Sichuan pepper and stir to mix well. (You can make the sauce ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.)
- Boil the noodles according to the package instructions if not using handmade noodles. Strain in a colander and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Strain well and transfer to individual serving bowls.
- Serve the noodles with the sauce on the side and toppings of your preference. Let everyone assemble their own bowls, adding their preferred toppings and stirring in a few spoonfuls of the sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds.