These were the noodles my Dad used to bring home in the 70s and 80s when Chinese food in New York City was exotic. I found the actual recipe from a now defunct but legendary restaurant – considered the place that made these noodles a true New York staple food. Back in those days, he would drive over the Willamsburg Bridge to get to Chinatown from Queens, where we lived, past the panhandlers on the Bowery who were referred to as “Bums” or “Winos” back then. Ah the good old days in New York!
- 1¼ pounds fresh Chinese egg noodles, or 1 pound linguine or spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 7 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste or 100% natural peanut butter
- 2/3 cup warm water
- 6 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- ½ to 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 3 to 4 whole scallions, finely chopped
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and julienned
- Fresh coriander leaves (optional)
- In about 5 quarts of boiling water salted with 1 rounded tablespoon salt, cook the noodles until done to taste. Drain immediately and rinse under cold running water until cooled. Place in a large bowl, drizzle with the vegetable oil, and toss well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- If the sesame paste or peanut butter has separated, drive a chopstick repeatedly into it so you can mix the oil in sufficiently to stir, although it needn’t be perfectly smooth at this point.
- In a small mixing bowl, with a fork or small whisk, beat the sesame paste or peanut butter together with the water until fairly smooth. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, cayenne pepper, sugar, and salt. Beat again until smooth.
- Add the garlic and scallions, stir well, and let stand for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to serve.
- (The sauce may be made several days ahead. Allow to return to room temperature before tossing it with the noodles.)
- Toss the noodles with about 1½ cups of the sauce.
- Serve topped with the remaining sauce, the cucumber, and coriander, if using