Just about everyone loves sesame noodle salad, including me. This delicious version improves on the traditional one because it uses a mixture of creamy peanut butter and sesame oil in place of the customary sesame paste. The resulting dish is lighter, not only because the noodles are more delicately coated with the dressing, but because there’s less of them in relation to the chicken and veggies.
Drink with a bright, exotic-fruit Sauvignon Blanc, like a Mulderbosch from South Africa.
Adapted from "Simply Ming One-Pot Meals" by Ming Tsai and Arthur Boehm.
- 8 ounces Chinese egg noodles or other thin noodles or pasta, fresh or dried
- Kosher salt
- Vegetable oil, for coating the pasta
- 2 heads baby Romaine or 1 head regular Romaine lettuce
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- ¾ cup naturally brewed rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
- 1 cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts
- 1 tablespoon sambal, any kind, or hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons naturally brewed soy sauce
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro (optional)
- 3 large cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 ½ pounds), cut lengthwise into ¼-inch slices and chilled
- 1 large English cucumber, peeled, seeded, halved lengthwise, and cut into ¼-inch slices
- 2 medium red bell peppers, cut into ¼-inch dice
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Fill a large bowl with water and add ice cubes. Cook the noodles in abundant boiling salted water until al dente, 2-4 minutes if fresh, about 6 minutes if dry. Drain and transfer the noodles to the ice water. When the noodles are cold, drain and coat lightly with vegetable oil. Set aside.
If using baby romaine, half lengthwise, notch out the core, and cut widthwise into ½-inch pieces. If using regular Romaine, remove the tougher outer leaves. Halve lengthwise, notch out the core, halve again, and cut widthwise into ½-inch pieces. Set aside.
For the dressing, in a large bowl whisk together the peanut butter, sesame oil, vinegar, and wine. Add the scallions, sambal, soy sauce, and cilantro, if using, and stir to blend. Transfer the dressing to a small bowl.
In the first bowl, combine the chicken, cucumber, bell peppers, lettuce, and noodles. Add three quarters of the dressing and toss. Season with salt and black pepper. Add the remaining dressing if necessary.
Transfer the salad to a serving bowl. Garnish with the sesame seeds and serve.