Quick Summer Recipe: Cold Noodles

There must be a more elegant name for this, but ‘cold noodles’ is an exact translation of a simple summer supper I grew up with. On really hot days, when even our usually sepulchral house got unbearable by about 5pm, you’d find us slurping down deliciously cold, savory noodles for dinner. I think every Chinese family probably has a different version; this one is passed down from my grandmother. And like most family recipes, the proportions are to taste. I finally measured them out to give you an idea of how much of what ingredient, but you’ll probably want to tweak to your liking. Oh, and it’s vegan. And fast. And remarkably tasty. All good things!

Cold Noodles with Raw Vegetables & Savoury Peanut Sauce
Serves 3-4, can be doubled very easily

Sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil (available at Asian supermarkets)
1 1/2 TB peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
dash of chili powder or chili oil (optional)

1/2 lb wheat noodles or spaghetti
vegetable oil to prevent noodles from sticking
1 large cucumber, shredded
1-2 carrots, shredded
handful of bean sprouts (optional)
toasted sesame seeds or chopped peanuts to top (optional)

1. Whisk all sauce ingredients together until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings to liking. The flavors seem to improve when the sauce has a chance to sit for an hour or two, but you can use it immediately if necessary.

2. Next, boil a big pot of water and cook  noodles (or spaghetti — any type of thicker wheat noodle will do) according to directions. Drain, toss with oil to prevent sticking, and chill until cold. Freezer works if you’re hungry.

3. While noodles are boiling, shred the cucumber and carrot(s) and wash the bean sprouts.

To serve, pile noodles in bowl, layer on vegetables, pour on sauce to taste, and mix. Sprinkle sesame seeds or chopped peanuts on top, if you like a little extra crunch. I prefer not to mix the whole batch at this time because the leftovers taste better if you keep everything separate until you’re ready to eat. If you run out of sauce, it also tastes fine with a drizzle of soy sauce and sesame oil. Lazy is good.

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