Most of what I know about Korean cooking, I learned from watching my unofficial food fairy godmother, YouTube cook Maangchi. Through her channel, two cookbooks, and online community, she taught me—a Korean American adoptee raised by white parents—many lessons on my journey to discover more about my culture. Things like the savory superpowers of toasted sesame oil—every time I use it, I feel more Korean somehow. It’s almost as if the ingredient connects me to my birth parents and extended family back home.
So I was already a toasted sesame oil devotee when the discovery of toasted sesame paste blew my mind. It has all the delicious nuttiness of the oil with a consistency that’s similar to jarred peanut butter. And it’s an absolutely essential condiment for the chilled sesame noodles I’m about to teach you to make.
If you’re lucky enough to live near an Asian grocer, buy fresh Korean udon noodles, which help soak up the saucy sesame goodness. Topped with zucchini that’s inspired by some of my favorite banchan (Korean side dishes), the overall meal is refreshing yet rich and creamy.
And because we’re friends, you should know that when I made these for the first time, I ate them for four days in a row. You’ll understand very, very soon.
Double Sesame Noodles
Makes 2 servings
1 zucchini, cut into thin matchsticks
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Savory Sesame Noodles
8 ounces fresh Korean udon noodles (or 5 ounces dried lo mein noodles)
Toasted sesame oil, for drizzling
1⁄4 cup Kewpie mayonnaise
1⁄4 cup Chinese sesame paste (such as Wangzhihe or Sanfeng)
1 tablespoon (packed) brown sugar
1 tablespoon gochujang
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
4 scallions, dark-green parts only, sliced thinly on the bias (i.e., at an angle)
1⁄4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
Sliced cooked chicken (optional)
1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, make the zucchini topping: Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, then set it aside.
2. Make the noodles: Once the water is at a rolling boil, add 2 hefty pinches of kosher salt before dumping in the noodles. Cook fresh noodles for 4 minutes and dried ones for 7 minutes. Drain before immediately rinsing them in cold water and transferring them to a large bowl. Drizzle them with 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil and toss to coat.
3. In a soup-size bowl, mix together the Kewpie mayo, Chinese sesame paste, brown sugar, gochujang, and soy sauce. Grate in a clove (or two, let’s be honest) of garlic and whisk together. Taste and add salt or more gochujang or soy sauce, depending on your preference.
4. Add the sesame sauce directly into the large bowl of noodles and toss to combine. Add the toasted sesame seeds and toss again. Serve in a wide, shallow bowl with a mound of zucchini topping, a sprinkle of scallions and cilantro, and the optional cooked chicken. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 1 week in an airtight container or zip-top bag.
Want more of Alyse's "omg-that's-good" recipes? Highly recommend following her on Insta.
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