A simple bowl of sesame noodles will hit the carb appeal spot most of the time, but with just a few extras, you have a meal that is as inviting as it is tasty.
One of my all-time favorite comfort foods is a simple bowl of sesame noodles. They have flavor and carb appeal, a perfect lunch or light supper. But it’s fun to add a few extras to balance out this humble bowl and dress it up for dinner.
A blank canvas
There couldn’t be a better base for a meal, so I wanted to enhance with color and texture. The toasted sesames are a must for the texture, and crisp, pan charred vegetables added flavor and crunch. The tofu satisfies those who think there has to be a pile of protein on a dish, but you could substitute shrimp here as well, also quickly charred along with the vegetables.
I’ve added a large, sweet onion to the noodles just for a little extra boost of flavor, and deglazed the pan with a bit of white wine. Stock is fine in this job as well.
Add heat to your own level
Add a little or a lot more cayenne, or use red pepper flakes, a spicy chili, or hot sauce. I think these need at least a little bite of heat for the best experience.
100% buckwheat are my noodles of choice for their nutty flavor and chewy texture. Soba noodles with part wheat flour are fine here too unless you can’t consume gluten. In a pinch, any favorite noodle will do!
Sesame Noodles with Charred Vegetables and Baked Tofu
The Sesame Noodles:
- ½ cup tahini (or peanut butter, or half and half of each)
- ¼ cup tamari, low sodium
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. honey or maple syrup
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1-inch knob of fresh ginger, grated
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne
- 1 lb buckwheat, or soba noodles
- 1 large sweet onion, sliced thinly
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1/3 cup dry white wine or stock
- 2 tbsp dark (toasted) sesame oil
- 2 scallions, minced, tops and all
- 2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
- Baked tofu, instructions here
- 8 oz. sugar snap peas
- 1 sweet red pepper, cut into strips
Cook the noodles in a large pot of salted water, drain, reserving a cup of pasta water to thin the noodle sauce out later if needed.
In a small bowl, whisk together tahini, tamari, rice vinegar, honey, garlic, ginger, and cayenne. Set aside.
In a large skillet over medium high, sauté the onion in a little oil until just starting to brown. Deglaze the pan with the wine or stock, scraping up all the glaze from the bottom. Add the tahini mixture. Stir well and simmer for a couple of minutes.
Add the noodles and sesame oil to the pan, mix well. If you want it thinner, use the reserved pasta water. I usually find I need to add about a half cup.
Turn out to a serving platter or bowl. Top with scallions and toasted seeds. If you like, you can also carefully drizzle just a touch more sesame oil over all, but it is strong in flavor so take care here.
Serve with baked tofu or stir-fried shrimp, and charred sugar snap peas and peppers below.
Charred Sugar Snap Peas and Peppers
Heat a large cast-iron or other heavy-bottomed pan or wok over high heat. Add the sugar snap peas in a single layer and let cook for a few minutes, or until charred on one side. Turn them over, add salt and pepper, and cook another 30 seconds. You can do this quick sauté with other vegetables: baby corn, broccoli florets, cauliflower, green beans, carrots, or any other favorite vegetable that chars quickly and stays crisp.
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