Sesame Noodle Salad

Cold-dressed noodles wearing a light sweet, sour, lignan-rich dressing.

Cold noodles are probably one of the easiest flavorful foods to assemble, whether it be on a hot summer day, for a party, or for dinner. The beauty of salads is versatility. All salads require is a fresh component and just enough seasoning to complement. With salads, your tastebuds can traverse the entire globe. Different regions boast unique combinations of herbs, spices, oils, and types of produce which can most definitely be eaten as some sort of medley.

For example, Burmese salads, or ah thote, typical incorporate an amalgam of spicy and sour elements: fried onion/garlic oil, pickled green tea leaves, shrimp paste, tamarind pulp or lime, fermented fish paste, fish sauce, chopped chili peppers, coriander and other noxiously savory elements.

Now for this recipe, I hesitate to call it an “Oriental-style” cold noodle salad because I cannot ascertain that it refers to a specific type of dish in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, etc. cuisine. Plus, I feel as if the adjective, “Orient,” is very ambiguous and generalizing because fails to even imply the diversity among the geographical region of the East. I would guess that the seasoning for this recipe most likely derives from Chinese influences with predominant fragrance of sesame that is complemented mostly by the saltiness of soy sauce and heat of ginger.

Putting all fuss aside, as a child, I definitely did not discriminate between different types of noodles (except with my preference for dry noodles rather than in soup); I loved it all, as you can see. Even in the end, I couldn’t help but to kick up the heat and tartness with chili powder and tamarind pulp–very Burmese. Why not? Whole foods do provide the best flavor for the best nutrition, anyways. Dr. Kim brings up a great point in his argument for coffee in spite of caffeine content: whole foods in general boast a slew of “co-nutrients” and antioxidants whereas processed foods often do not.

Sesame Noodle Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. sweet rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup tamarind pulp
  • 3 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 box (13.25 oz) thin spaghetti pasta
  • 10 mini bell peppers
  • 2 cup sugar snap peas
  1. Combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, mirin, ginger, tamarind juice, roasted sesame seeds, and chili powder in a large bowl.
  2. Cook the spaghetti pasta, or other noodle. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, then boil pasta for ~7 minutes, or until al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the veggies. Remove the stems and seeds from the bell peppers, and cut into matchsticks. If necessary, trim the sugar snap peas.
  4. Toss freshly cooked pasta and veggies into the large bowl with the seasoning until well-combined. Let sit overnight in the fridge, or until pasta absorbs the seasoning.
  5. Serve the cold noodle salad alone, with a dash of Sriracha, with more toasted sesame seeds, scallions, etc.

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