June 28, 2007

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Peanutty dinner delight
The simple beauty of cold sesame noodles
By Susan Ware news@hippopress.com

Sometimes you eat something somewhere and it is so perfect, it ruins you for any other attempt.

This happened to me with cold sesame noodles. Often called summer noodles, they are front and center now that the weather has turned warm.

Soft and full of flavor, a little party in your mouth, sesame noodles done right are like nothing else.

The flavor combination of sesame and peanut, fire and sweetness, rivals the divine chocolate-raspberry and tomato-basil pairings. The beauty of cold sesame noodles is in their simple complexity, an oxymoron maybe, but with this dish, truly†the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Dave Chiang, the owner of Thousand Crane, said that making a good sesame sauce for cold noodles is not for amateurs. While the ingredients appear simple enough, there is a delicate balance that only a skilled chef can pull off.

ďMost people really donít understand how good cold sesame noodles are. But once you have them, you want them all the time,Ē he said.

He added, though, that often people get turned off by the dish because they ordered it somewhere and it was bland and unremarkable, so they skip it in the future.

Finding a restaurant that renders cold sesame noodles the way God intended is tough. Technique involves quirky steps like dissolving sugar in black tea before adding to sauce. But, like anything else, it is all a matter of personal taste.

Locally, a handful of restaurants put cold sesame noodles on the menu. If you want to try and make them yourself, get fresh noodles from Saigon Asian Market, 93 South Maple St. in Manchester,†on Saturday mornings and be sure to use a commercial peanut butter like Jiff. Seriously, funky, organic, whatever is not better in this sauce.


Noodle me
Chen Yang Li 337 Amherst St., Nashua ($4.95)
Jasmine Palace 116 West Pearl St., Nashua 882-9168 ($5.95)
No. 1 Chinese Restaurant 241 Main St., Nashua 880-3838 ($4.45)
Silver Maple 356 D.W. Hwy., Merrimack 429-1688† ($4.75)
Tea Garden 28 Railroad St., Nashua 598-1798 ($5.75)
Thousand Crane 1000 Elm St., Manchester 634-0000 ($4.25)
Wah Tong 665 Hooksett Rd., Manchester 626-1689 ($4.75)

Noodle you
Cold sesame noodles
Recipe from Tyler Florence of the Food Network
1/2 pound Chinese egg noodles
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red chili paste, such as sambal oelek
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
6 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Cucumber slices, for garnish
Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
Cook the noodles in large pot of boiling unsalted water over medium heat until barely tender and still firm. Drain immediately and rinse with cold water until cool. Drain the noodles really well and transfer to a wide bowl; toss with the sesame oil so they donít stick together.
In a small saucepan, heat the peanut oil over medium-low flame. Add the green onions, ginger, garlic, and chili paste. Cook and stir for a minute until soft and fragrant. Mix in the brown sugar, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, and hot water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the peanut butter has smoothed out. Toss the noodles with the peanut sauce until well coated. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Garnish with the sesame seeds, cucumber slices and cilantro.


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A year of eats

All-you-can-read guide to breakfast
A bagel by any other l
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A picnic ó itís romance with ants
A sweet burst of summer, in stages
Beef, It's What's For Dinner, Lunch, And Dessert
Be it ever so humble, the burger rules
Blockbuster snacks for your movie
Box Of Chocolates
C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
Celebrate Easter In A Sugar Coma
Chat And Chew

Chinese soup is magic
Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
Empanadas
Enter Soup
Experiments With Very Bad Brownies
Feeding A Crowd The Morning After
Follow the cider house rules
Fresh Herbs
Go ahead ó run silent, run deep
Goodbye corn syrup, hello organic oatmeal
Go Indian for Thanksgiving
Grilled Cheese Junkie

Halloween candy for grown-ups
Have a Happy Meal and a happier wallet
Holiday Cookies - The Easy Way
Holiday Potluck 101-Tips For The Kitchen Novice
Home-Based Date
How do you like them apples?
In-A-Pinch Love Feast
It's not easy to be cheesy
Itís not Christmas without tamales
Lest We Forget The Humble Squash
Keeping your cool while you eat
Living through your salad days

Looking Beyond The Hot Dog Stand
Lunching your way to a less toxic you
Meat's meat and a man's gotta eat

Moist and delicious chicken ó no, really
Oatmeal Cookies, The Miracle Cure
Oscar Night, When The Stars Come Out To Eat

Offering Up A Slice Of Teriyaki Pie
Pot Pies Are Darn Tasty
Pumpkin-Flavored Treats
Small Plates Are The Next Big Thing
Speedy 'za not pie in the sky
Steak: itís whatís for dinner, again
Summer coolers, just add sunlight
Summer Squash
Super Bowl Grub
Take A Walk On The Dark Side
Taste of Manchester Event
The Cosmopolitan
The joys of a simple oatmeal breakfast
The return of comfort food
The One-Note Cook Book
The New American Plate Cookbook
The Stickiest, Hottest & Sweetest Of Love's Labors
The taste of retro
The Unheralded Peanut Butter Cookies
The union of sweet and heat
The Weekly Dish (12-16-04)
The Weekly Dish (12-23-04)

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Week Four: Adding Diet To The Mix
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When $$ trumps urge to dine out
When in doubt, go for the organic
When nothing else will cool, Slurp it
You Say Potato, She'll Say Potato,Too
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