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cold noodles with actual sesame sauce


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For what it's worth, I use Lan Chi toasted sesame paste. It took me quite a while to discover this ingredient in my local Asian grocer though, because it's actually labeled "Chinese Salad Dressing." The listed ingredient is sesame seed. They also have black paste called "Black Sesame Seed Sauce." I tasted them both along side my jar of Tahini--the textures are similar but the flavor is completely different. The aroma of the Chinese sesame paste is actually similar to peanut butter and they share more with it than they do Tahini. I would say based on this crude comparison that unsalted smooth peanut butter could be a sub for the Chinese sesame paste, but not Tahini.

nunc est bibendum...

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It occurs to me that while peanuts have been part of the Asian pantry for centuries, peanut butter was a late 19th Century American invention. I wonder when peanut butter made it to Asia. Although, even if it happened as late as World War II, half a century is plenty of time to establish an ingredient as "traditional" if it's widely used. Is it widely used over there? Someone from Asia please speak up.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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It occurs to me that while peanuts have been part of the Asian pantry for centuries, peanut butter was a late 19th Century American invention. I wonder when peanut butter made it to Asia. Although, even if it happened as late as World War II, half a century is plenty of time to establish an ingredient as "traditional" if it's widely used. Is it widely used over there? Someone from Asia please speak up.

For what it's worth, I have never had cold noodles here in the north of China with peanut butter in it! They are always sesame paste based with no peanuts - in my experience. I just about lived on liangmian in my student days here (more than ten years ago now - glup!) and never ever saw or tasted peanut butter used in cold noodles. I must add that I have experienced this in Hong Kong - in the same fashion that they seem to put peanut butter into Dandan mian (yuck, yuck and double yuck!).

Coincidently, we buy Chinese-made Skippy here for our sandwiches. and there are two neat things:

a) they do one with crispy rice bits in it and it is AWESOME!!! totally fake tasting and typical "Skippiness" and the crispy rice crispies add a frisson of delight...

b) They have a side bar on the jar explaining how to use this funky new product and among the ideas is indeed 'as a substitute for sesame in cold noodles!'. Serving suggestions also include salads and use in stir fries....and there's something else that I can't remember but it's quite weird. I need to go home and look in the cupboard!

<a href='http://www.longfengwines.com' target='_blank'>Wine Tasting in the Big Beige of Beijing</a>

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It occurs to me that while peanuts have been part of the Asian pantry for centuries, peanut butter was a late 19th Century American invention. I wonder when peanut butter made it to Asia. Although, even if it happened as late as World War II, half a century is plenty of time to establish an ingredient as "traditional" if it's widely used. Is it widely used over there? Someone from Asia please speak up.

Coming from a family that makes and eats sesame noodles for generations, I can say that we never ever use peanut butter. In fact, growing up in China as well as many visits in China, I have never seen peanut butter in anyone's kitchen. This is a very popular dish eaten for breakfast, lunch or as a snack. :biggrin:

You can buy sesame paste in your Asian grocer, it is usually packed in sesame oil. As soon as you open it up and take a swiff you will notice the difference between that and peanut butter. The key to using sesame butter is to make sure that you "stir" (with gusto) the oil with the sesame paste. This process is critical to make a nice smooth paste. You can also add more sesame oil during this process.

As for thinning it out. While I have never heard of using tea, it does sound interesting. However, my family as well as the regions around Wuhan and Sichuan, use a different method. We would slice up a whole bunch of garlic and scallions then submerge it in hot water. This allows the water to take on all the flavors of the garlic and scallions. Let the water cool to room temp and then use that as your thinning agent. This method will also add more garlic and scallion flavor to your noodles without having the pieces in your dish.

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However, my family as well as the regions around Wuhan and Sichuan, use a different method.  We would slice up a whole bunch of garlic and scallions then submerge it in hot water. This allows the water to take on all the flavors of the garlic and scallions.  Let the water cool to room temp and then use that as your thinning agent. This method will also add more garlic and scallion flavor to your noodles without having the pieces in your dish.

That sounds great. I'll try it next time.

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This allows the water to take on all the flavors of the garlic and scallions.  Let the water cool to room temp and then use that as your thinning agent. This method will also add more garlic and scallion flavor to your noodles without having the pieces in your dish.

Sounds a whole lot more flavorful than tea! Like David, I gotta try it next time, too.

Edited by rlibkind (log)

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

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I wish there was a recipe for the Sesame Noodles one found in NYC Chinatown at the Hua Yuan back in the 80s. ( ?Hua Yuan Szechuan? on E Broadway?) I think Sesame Noodles were made popular because of that restaurant! They didn't have a thick opaque sauce at all. The sauce was actually clear and I don't remember any pieces of anything, except a few fine scallions. But they were fantastic. I've tried to replicate them with the sesame flavoring from sesame oil, and the wet with a strong clear chicken broth, and chili oil for the heat, however they weren't quite the same.

I've never found any to match those at Hua Yuan.

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  • 2 weeks later...

OK so it's sad, but my lunch today is a 7-11 cold noodles (munched at my computer). I've got the wrapping in front of me and the first ingredient after noodles is sesame paste - no peanut butter!

Actually 7-11 food here isn't that bad - they do set meals of two stir frys on rice for 11 RMB which seem popular with the lunch crowd...

<a href='http://www.longfengwines.com' target='_blank'>Wine Tasting in the Big Beige of Beijing</a>

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  • 4 weeks later...

I made cold sesame noodles last night and tried XiaoLing's infused water suggestion--ginger, onion, and garlic in my case--and that idea looks like a keeper. I liked it.

My son's preschool has decided they are not only nut-free, but also sesame-free and egg-free (fortunately milk-free only applies to snacks we have to prepare one week per semester for the whole group), so this morning I tried cold noodles with a sunflower seed butter sauce and no sesame oil, again using the infused water from last night to get the right consistency--not traditional, but not bad, I'd say.

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  • 2 weeks later...

How do guys make the sesame sauce for hot pot? Do you use the same recipe as the one discussed here?

The reason I ask is because I have a friend who uses the exact same ingredients as she would with cold noodles (sometimes she alternates and uses the sauce from dan dan mian).

As for me, my hot pot sesame sauce is rather basic hmmm...

Edited by Ce'nedra (log)

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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http://www.peabutter.ca/

We have pea butter here that is a great substitute - I don't know if you can get it in the US, but here's the website.

I have used it for everything requiring peanut butter including peanut butter cups, and it works great.

Don't try to win over the haters. You're not the jackass whisperer."

Scott Stratten

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