Pasta

Chrissy Teigen’s Spicy Sesame Noodles That Don't Skimp on Sesame

September 14, 2016

I think it’s safe to say there’s never more of a need than right now for quick and easy dinners—meals that can materialize from the pantry and be prepped as you go. This one comes from Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings, and starts with a pot of salted water. You bring it to a boil, drop in a chicken breast, cover the pot, remove it from the heat, and let it stand for about 15 minutes.

This is just the start of the flavor parade. Photo by Alexandra Stafford

While the breast poaches away, you prep everything else, which amounts to slicing scallions and stirring together a sauce. This one has big sesame flavor thanks to tahini and sesame oil, a kick thanks to chile oil and cayenne, and a nice bite thanks to vinegar and soy sauce. It’s slightly thick and creamy, and tastes balanced, the heat and acidity tempered by a small amount of honey.  

By the time you’ve finished whisking together the sauce, the breast, which emerges perfectly cooked, is ready to be shredded. At this point, you return the water to a boil, and cook the pasta in a now lightly seasoned broth. While the pasta cooks, slice the scallions, set the table, do the dishes, tidy the kitchen, check your email—really, you’ll find yourself twiddling your thumbs. This may be unsettling, but try to embrace it—there are worse problems to have this time of year.

The heat from the noodles wilt the chard a bit. Photo by Alexandra Stafford

A Few Notes

The temperature: Sesame noodles are classically a cold dish, which is how these are intended to be served, but they can be served warm, too, which I prefer as our evenings get colder. If you like chilled noodles, however, simply rinse the pasta under cold water after draining it.  

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The add-ins: Sesame noodles also typically consist of little more than noodles, sauce, and scallions, but I’ve found greens to be a nice addition—they don’t get lost in the sauce, both flavor- and texture-wise. Here, I’ve piled torn Swiss chard leaves into a colander, then drained the pasta right over them, which wilts them ever so slightly, making them more receptive to the sesame dressing, which gets caught in the creases of their ruffled surfaces. Other vegetables, such as thinly sliced carrots or sweet potatoes, or shredded cabbage or romaine, would be nice additions here, too.  

See? Super easy to shred. Photo by Alexandra Stafford

Chicken breasts vs. thighs: I typically prefer dark meat, but here, I love the breast, which emerges from the poaching liquid so tender and juicy. Breasts are easier to shred into long strands than dark meat, too, and pulled meat (as opposed to cubed) tangles better with the noodles.

The noodles: Be sure to use a noodle that will stand up to the sauce. Fettuccine and linguini work particularly well. I’ve had less success with lo mein and soba noodles, which are less forgiving when not handled properly—they easily clump and turn to mush.

The chile oil: This is the one ingredient you may have to shop around for, but know you can make your own. Simply heat a cup of grapeseed, canola, or other neutral oil with a quarter cup of crushed red pepper flakes over low heat until the oil just begins to fizzle. Remove pan from heat. Let flakes steep for 24 hours. Strain into a clean jar. Keep on hand for months. 

This post originally ran in 2016. We're re-running it here because we like sesame noodles.

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2 Comments

cookinalong December 18, 2016
Nice tip about adding greens & making your own chili oil, but I must disagree about using tahini. There's nothing wrong with tahini, of course, but you won't get the depth of sesame taste you'll expect if you're used to Chinese restaurant style sesame noodles. Using toasted sesame oil helps a bit, but the chinese sesame paste is not difficult to find, certainly no more elusive than tahini, and it makes a world of difference. Also, I double the garlic, but that's just me!
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. December 18, 2016
Where do you find Chinese sesame paste? I'd love to give it a try!