Is there anything as sublimely-satisfying as humble noodles coated with sesame?
The simplicity of this classic Chinese-American dish is of course deceiving, as the sauce has a rich depth of layers and flavours. Part nutty, with shades of heat, a kick of umami and a punch from something you can’t quite put a pin on. The answer reveals itself below in a surprise ingredient. Black tea. Feel free to adjust some of the ingredients depending on taste (you can make it nuttier, spicier or even sweeter) but don’t skip or tone down the black tea – it’s precisely what lends an alluring aroma, helping to bring alive the other flavours in this recipe.
Next, the noodles. To be honest, any kind would work well here. Soba, egg noodles or even zoodles. I’ve used edamame noodles from Pink Harvest for a deliciously-healthy protein boost.
Speaking of which, you can also choose to garnish the final dish with beansprouts for a bit of crunch, as well as adding in other greens, veggies and proteins. In terms of choice, I’m hard pressed to think of a combination which wouldn’t work. Anything and everything from asparagus and bell peppers to bok choy and mushrooms would be excellent add-ins. On this occasion, I was inspired by my recent farm-fresh delivery from Zama Organics, to toss in sauteéd leeks (so good for gut health!) and baby corn, along with wilted baby spinach.
The end result? Well, try this recipe to gauge for yourself!
- 400g uncooked noodles (I used Pink Harvest’s Edamame Noodles)
For the sesame sauce:
- 1/3 cup light soy sauce
- 2½ tbsp rice vinegar (can sub with apple cider vinegar)
- 3 tbsp toasted sesame oil (I got mine from Sprig)
- 2 tbsp sesame paste (toast sesame seeds until fragrant and browned, then blitz with a few tablespoons of olive oil until you have a paste)
- 1½ tbsp smooth peanut butter
- 2 tbsp strong black tea
- 1 heaping tbsp Sriracha (you can also use a chilli oil or chilli-garlic paste)
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp fish sauce (I used a vegan fysh sauce from Urban Platter)
- ¾ tbsp finely grated ginger (can increase to 1 tbsp if you don’t mind the extra heat)
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- A good crack of black pepper
For the stir-fry
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 6 cups baby spinach (sourced from Zama Organics)
- 2 medium leeks, cleaned well & finely-sliced in rings (Zama Organics)
- 6-8 baby corns, washed and diced (Zama Organics)
- Start by whisking together all the ingredients for the sesame sauce, until well combined. Set aside.
- Next, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add noodles and cook according to instructions until just shy of al dente (you want the noodles to have a bit of bite). Once drained, shock with cold water, drain again and immediately toss with some more sesame oil (this helps to keep the noodles from sticking together).
- While the noodles are cooking, prepare the stir-fry and wilted greens. Heat a tbsp of toasted sesame oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat. Sauté the garlic (1 clove, minced) until fragrant. Next add the baby corn, and sauté until it has softened, before adding the leeks. Continue stirring. Once leeks have softened as well, add the spinach and stir until the greens have wilted. Remove from heat; be careful not to overcook as you want the spinach to still be bright green with a touch of plumpness.
- Toss the noodles, wilted greens and veggies with sesame sauce. Serve immediately.
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