Genius Recipes

Patricia Yeo's Sesame Noodles

By • September 18, 2013 • 34 Comments

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Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: A salad that will be even better packed up for lunch tomorrow -- with a creamy, yet vegan, sesame dressing. (If you're thinking secret ingredient, you're right!)

Patricia Yeo's Sesame Noodles from Food52

Rare is the salad that holds up on day two. Greens wilt, alliums go afoul, grains get weathered and dry. And improving with age seems out of the question, like asking salad to not be a salad.

Patricia Yeo's Sesame Noodles on Food52

So when we find a good one, we should hold it tight, and imprint it on our animal brains as a template to repeat and riff on -- to make our lives easier in all the brown bag lunches, picnics, and potlucks that will come our way.

More: 10 more dishes that taste better the next day.

Here's your next imprint-worthy model for next-day salad success, from chef Patricia Yeo via Fine Cooking. It hinges on a sultry sesame dressing. It's creamy despite being vegan (we'll get to that) and it puts other nutty noodle salads to shame.

Patricia Yeo
Food52er ecrossi, who tipped me off to this recipe, explained our noodle salad problem best: "Most sesame and peanut noodle recipes are a real disappointment. They usually end up with a gloppy, too-sweet dressing that tastes like thinned-out peanut butter." Not this one.

Yeo puts more care into hers -- it might be a little more work than watering down peanut butter, but you won't be sorry you did it.

Photo by James Ransom  Photo by James Ransom

You'll toast sesame seeds. You'll sauté some shallots and garlic. Then you'll put those into a blender with a little sugar and a few bottled goods -- sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chile paste -- from your pantry. This will give you a dark, delicious slurry.

sesame dressing

Then, whenever you're ready to dress, you'll whisk in water -- which loosens the sauce, and unlocks the creaminess of the broken sesame seeds.

Patricia Yeo's Sesame Noodles form Food52

It's one of those secret miracles of vegan cooking that makes you wish you listened to vegans more -- like nut milks, you get something milky-smooth and richly flavored where you'd least expect it.

Patricia Yeo's Sesame Noodles from Food52

Yeo's salad has strips of red pepper, daikon, and snow pea, but you could put in whatever vegetables you want. I can see broccoli and celery in winter, radishes and scapes in spring.

If you've been listening, and you're planning on keeping this salad around for lunch, it helps if they're crudité-like and built to last.

Patricia Yeo's Sesame Noodles from Food52

Patricia Yeo's Sesame Noodles

Adapted slightly from Fine Cooking

Serves 6 as a main dish, 8 to 10 as a side dish

For the sesame dressing:

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (4 ounces) sesame seeds
7 tablespoons peanut oil
3 medium or 2 large shallots (about 2 ounces total), sliced
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar (or to taste -- if making vegan, use cane sugar)
1 teaspoon hot chile paste
3/4 to 1 cup water (or less)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

For the noodles:

12 ounces fresh Chinese egg noodles (sometimes called wonton noodles) or other long, thin noodles
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 cup blanched snow peas, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced daikon radish
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup thinly sliced scallions (cut on the bias on a sharp angle)

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]

Jump to Comments (34)

Tags: genius, sesame, noodles, lunch, make-ahead, summer, fall, salad

Comments (34)

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11 months ago jmjdubai

That was awesomeeee!!!

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about 1 year ago Karen

May I ask what you mean by "hot chile paste"? Is it "sambal oelek" or something else? Thanks!

Miglore

about 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Yes, I used sambal oelek but other chile pastes could work here too.

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about 1 year ago Cate est la cuisson

As I am allergic to wheat, what would be the best substitute for me to make this salad? It sounds delicious, but I cannot take a chance on 'cheating'.
Thanks.
Catie

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about 1 year ago I_Fortuna

Maybe you could use any of the noodles you are already used to using. Bean noodles and rice noodles too. This looks like it would be good with any noodle. : )

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about 1 year ago DGE

I made this for supper tonight. Used fresh wonton noodles and added sauteed chicken just because I needed to use it up. This was amazing!!! I toasted the sesame seeds in a fry pan so I didn't have to heat up the oven. Used seasoned rice vinegar. Thanks for posting! Wonderful flavors. I love peanut sauce, but this was just different and refreshing.

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about 1 year ago tigerlille

Oops, I meant pantry ingredients, not recipe!

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about 1 year ago tigerlille

Actually, I'm quite happy with Nina Simonds Chinese Peanut Noodle Sauce, which does NOT taste like watered down peanut butter, and is quick, cheap, and delicious. You can get all your stand by pantry recipes very inexpensively at a good Asian grocery (be sure to use black vinegar instead of worstershire sauce, so much cheaper),and the only fresh ingredients you need are ginger root and garlic, spring onions optional. This recipe is genius enough for me. I do love Patricia Yeo's recipes, but why complicate things?

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about 1 year ago Pavla

Any suggestions for those of us allergic to peanuts?

Miglore

about 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Sub for another neutral oil like grapeseed or canola (or even lightly flavored olive oil), and either skip the peanut garnish, or sub a nut that works for you. Cashews would be great.

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about 1 year ago Susie

Thanks all.

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about 1 year ago SeaGrey

I’m wondering how long this would be good un-refrigerated? I’d like to make something like this to take to school.

Miglore

about 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

A few hours is totally fine -- this is a great lunch to take with you.

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about 1 year ago foodblimp

1/4 cup sugar sounds like a lot for a salad dressing. Any ideas for substitutions on the sugar?

Miglore

about 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Just add to taste whatever sugar you prefer, or even a little honey could be good.

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about 1 year ago pamela joy

I understood that tahini was made from raw sesame seeds, while sesame paste was made from roasted seeds. Also, I'm fairly certain that cane sugar is what vegans avoid, as it is filtered using animal bone, so for vegans, you'd want to use beet sugar.

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about 1 year ago amysarah

I believe tahini is made with raw sesame seeds, and Asian sesame paste is toasted. Yes, they do taste different - the latter has a deeper, more, well...roasted flavor. I buy jars of it at the Asian market and use it to make Sesame Noodles (but will give this recipe a go too.)

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about 1 year ago semsaD

In Turkey we have tahini made out of toasted sesame seeds, but it isn't mass produced, so you can't find any in supermarkets. Very small very artisanal producers still produce it, but they also are diminishing.

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about 1 year ago HapppyBee

I love the idea of tahini for ease of use, so sub 3/4 C right? Also, is tahini made with toasted sesame seeds or raw? I'm wondering if there is much difference in taste between the tahini/toasted sesame seed version. Anyone compared the two? Thanks for the tips! This sounds amazing.

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about 1 year ago blmcmp

Yeo's version sounds yummy, I have not compared the two. I only use 3 tablespoons of tahini. I would guess the toasted seeds have a wonderful flavor--I use toasted sesame oil.

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about 1 year ago SusanR

This recipe looks great. I do have to ask though, are those ramen noodles in the pictures?

Miglore

about 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

No, not exactly! They're dried Chinese wheat noodles -- like this: http://www.vitacost.com...

Fresh egg wonton noodles would be great if you can find them, but other long, thin noodles work well too. (Ecrossi uses dried capellini.)

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about 1 year ago I_Fortuna

I make this a lot and don't need a blender. A mortar and pestle are easily used to make a paste of the sesame seeds and sesame oil. Instead of chile paste, try hot seame oil. It is a more subtle flavor with just the right amount of heat so as not to mask the other flavors. Also, these sure look like ramen noodles which is what I use. I have other noodles but ramen is best for this. Ramen is a cheap versatile noodle. I cook them to package directions then fry them in sesame oil for chow mein recipes. This is how the Chinese restaurant we used to go to when I was a child many years ago made them, Mr. Gee's Pagoda. When you walked in the door there was a huge bronze Ho Tai Buddha sitting in the waiting area. I would always put a penny in his mouth, rub his tummy and make a wish. I think this was the pinnacle of the experience along with the noodles of course. I sure miss Chinese American food from the 50's and 60's and the kindly Mr. Gee. : )

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about 1 year ago blmcmp

Susie, I use the tahini in place of the toasted sesame seeds. Yeo's version sounds wonderful--toasted sesame seeds ground up in the blender--but a quicker version (sans blender) is to stir in tahini, which is made of sesame seeds already ground into a seed butter (similar to peanut butter).

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about 1 year ago Susie

blmcmp, you use the Tahini to replace what specifically??

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about 1 year ago Alexandra Stafford

This is so much fun! I love Patricia Yeo. A million years ago I worked with her for The Book and the Cook in Philadelphia at Fork — her braised oxtails were amazing. I used to cook from her Everyday Asian cookbook all the time. Totally trying this sesame dressing! Thanks!

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about 1 year ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

So I want to write a poem that starts with your first sentence. Can I?

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about 1 year ago blmcmp

Yum! This is one of my favorite top ten go-to recipes--you can use almost any veggies, any noodles, and serve it warm or cold. My version is made with a few tablespoons of tahini (sesame butter), much quicker. I keep the sauce separate until I'm ready to toss noodles and veggies together for a meal.

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about 1 year ago emcsull

same here, tahin works for me too.

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about 1 year ago Allison Longenbaugh

So, what are you replacing with the Tahini? The toasted sesame seeds? Thanks!

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about 1 year ago blmcmp

Allison, yes, I use the tahini in place of the toasted sesame seeds. Yeo's version sounds wonderful--toasted sesame seeds ground up in the blender--but a quicker version (sans blender) is to stir in tahini, which is made of sesame seeds already ground into a seed butter (similar to peanut butter).

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about 1 year ago emcsull

I can only second this. you don't need peanut oil then, but you can top it up with a bit more sesame oil if needs be. All the other ingredients I use. Old recipe from the NYT ages ago.

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about 1 year ago blmcmp

emcsull, thank you, yes, I reread the recipe--no need for the 7 tablespoons of peanut oil (if you use the tahini). I only use 1T of the toasted sesame oil. And, only use a small amount of water, if needed, to thin the sauce.

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about 1 year ago beejay45

I'll go you one better! I use tahini, too, but I use bottled *gasp* Kikkoman Teriyaki Marinade instead of most of the other ingredients. When I was catering I did it all from scratch, then I found this and got lazy. I sometimes add some chili oil, if the veggies warrant it. Best tip of all, echoing blmcmp, is not to dress more than you will eat/serve and keep the veggies separate. This way it will last 2-3 days in the fridge. Think Bento.