Szechuan Cold Spicy Noodles
This is the real McCoy—an original that I have been making for over thirty years before bottled dressings were the norm. Made with jarred sesame paste (not tahini!), it has a wonderful musty flavor. However, peanut butter is a great substitute. Thinking like a Jew in ancient China, I would prepare this cold dish in advance and serve it for Shabbat lunch. Remember, it was the Chinese who gave the world noodles!
- Put the noodles into boiling water and cook until water returns to a boil. Immediately add 1/2 cup cold water to the pot and return to a boil. Noodles should be tender shortly after the water has come to the boil for the second time. Drain the noodles, but do not rinse.
- Place 2 tablespoons vegetable oil on a large rimmed platter. Add noodles and top with the 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Toss the noodles until well coated with the oils.
- The Chinese method for cooking noodles is easy and always produces a product that is not too soft. Stopping the cooking action by adding the cold water is the secret to perfect noodles.
- When buying jarred Asian sesame seed paste, make sure the paste isn’t too dark, which could be a sign of over-roasting and bitterness.
- Chili pepper oil is clear and bright orange. Any liquid hot sauce can be substituted, but add a little more vegetable oil to the sauce to keep the proper consistency.
- Coating the noodles with the two oils first is imperative so that they don’t stick together and to prevent the noodles from absorbing all the sauce and clumping.
- To prepare in advance, toss the noodles with the oils and shred the chicken on top. Store the sauce and chopped vegetables separately, and combine everything just before serving.
- I like to serve this in a shallow rimmed platter so I can present it and then toss at the table without the noodles falling out of the serving dish.