As a subtropical/ tropical island, Sesame Noodle Salad is a Taiwanese classic. It’s simply too hot in Taiwan to eat warm food sometimes(yet we enjoy a good hotpot no matter the time of year. This noodle is rich, nutty but the vinegar balanced it out well so it’s not heavy. Top it with shredded cucumber, carrots, and other vegetables if you’d like. GREAT with Mala Hot Sauce.
“涼麵” (Liang2Mian4), means cold noodles. Sometimes the weather gets too hot in Taiwan and nothing sounds good anymore. A “salad” with lettuce isn’t really our thing, but noodles definitely is. These noodle “salads” or cold noodles are so popular people often eat it for breakfast as well, also a popular midnight snack, generally eaten throughout any time of the day.
There are many variations of this noodle salad, but the classic remains to be one with a tangy, nutty, delicious sesame sauce. Most shops have their own recipe, with store-bought sesame paste, but this is a recipe from absolute scratch, starting with roasted white sesame. This recipe is awesome because the sauce can be made ahead of time and freeze until ready to use. It’s simple, no fuss… I had to struggle to come up with 3 lines for the instruction, I finished the recipe with just two words: blend everything.
There are a few condiments in this recipe that might be special to you, but they are Taiwanese staples and what makes this recipe so special and delicious. Sesame based sauce may seem heavy at times, but this one is perfectly balanced out with the sourness and flavor of two types of vinegar- “black” and white. Another thing that adds to the unique taste of this sauce is “fermented bean curd”(豆腐乳, dou4fu3ru3). It’s savory, unique and a little goes a long way.
Black Vinegar (烏醋/黑醋)
Black vinegar is similar to what the western world known as the Wostercshire sauce. Vinegar is often fermented with grains, black vinegar is fermented with grains, onions, carrots and other fruits and vegetables. It is not as acidic nor sour as white vinegar and has a unique flavor to it. It can be found at most Asian stores or on Amazon. (Affiliate link)
One little tip on cooking “authentic” food is to keep in mind of where the cuisine you’re making is from and look for the condiments/ingredients from that country. English isn’t the best language for foreign cuisines, most translations are very general and sometimes doesn’t make any sense to people who actually know the food. Take “Black Vinegar” for example, it is very general. If you search for it on Amazon, the results include everything from Japanese brown rice vinegar to Italian balsamic and those flavors are drastically different. It’s safer to pick a bottle of Taiwanese black vinegar when recreating a Taiwanese recipe.
The Fermented Bean Curd (豆腐乳)
Sounds weird? Maybe. But think of it like cheese. It’s a fermented tofu with the flavor of aged cheese- nutty, salty, and creamy like cream cheese. Because of how salty it is, it’s often used as a condiment during cooking- cabbage stir-fry, chicken marinated in it and deep-fried, or eaten with plain congee(my favorite).
There are a few different types of fermented bean curd- red is sweeter, white is usually marinated in a sesame oil brine, one with a chili sesame oil brine and if you’re daring- stinky tofu. I find the flavor of the chili sesame oil fermented bean curd works best with this recipe. I bought mine at the local Asian store, but you can also get it on Amazon. (affiliate link)
You can omit the fermented bean curd if it’s too much work to find a bottle, but it really adds a depth of flavor to the sauce.
Wheat noodles are generally used for this recipe. I’ve started to experiment with lye water noodles. Lye water is a potent liquid alkaline (potassium carbonate) that changes the gluten in the flour and make the noodles extra bouncy! (Recipe coming soon) For now, this simple homemade noodle recipe works just fine and still super tasty. I like to cut them thin, but you can do whatever you like!
When cooking noodles for this noodle salad, cook the noodles to the texture you prefer, then remove and dump into a pot of ice cold water immediately to chill and create a bouncy texture. Wash out the extra starch on the noodles, drain and mix with vegetable oils to prevent sticking if you’re not serving it right away.
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- 4 Portions of Cooked and Chilled Noodles
- 2 Carrots Julienned
- 2 Cucumbers Julienned
- 2 Soft Boiled Eggs Halved
Sesame Noodle Sauce
- 1 C Toasted White Sesame Seeds
- 3 TBsp Unsweetened Peanut Butter Sub with 1/4C Roasted Peanuts
- 4 TBsp Soy Sauce
- 1 Cube of Fermented Bean Curd
- 2 TBsp Black Vinegar
- 4 TBsp White Vinegar
- 4 Cloves of Garlic
- 3 TBsp Sugar
- 1 C Water
- Blend all the sauce ingredients in a blender until smooth!
- Pour over the cold noodles, add the vegetables and mix well. Add Mala Hot Sauce if you like it spicy.
- Freeze the extra sauce and defrost for later!
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