Cold Sesame Noodles

Serves 4 to 6
With the possible exception of pan-fried dumplings, cold sesame noodles are probably the Chinese takeout item most frequently ordered by kids. This dish can be as quick a meal as spaghetti. A wellstocked pantry (see page 8) contains all the ingredients.


  • 1 pound Chinese egg noodles, spaghetti, or linguine
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 6 tablespoons sesame paste (tahini) or peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup water, plus more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 scallion (both white and green parts), thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (1 tablespoon)
  • Chinese chili oil (optional)


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the noodles, and cook until just barely tender, 5 to 6 minutes, or according to the package instructions. Drain well. Toss them with the sesame oil to coat. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, thin the sesame paste by stirring enough water into the paste to achieve the consistency of thick cream. Whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar. Add the mixture to the sesame paste. Stir in the garlic, three quarters of the scallion, and the ginger.
  3. Just before serving, toss the chilled noodles with the sauce. Garnish with the remaining scallion and drizzle with the chili oil, if using.
cook's note
Frozen dumplings: Commercially made frozen dumplings are available at many specialty food chains and markets in Chinatown communities. You can easily and quickly boil, steam, or panfry them, and they make a quick soup with some chicken broth.
Need help with the ingredients? Check our pantry list: