Chinese New Year always strikes a sharp homesickness in me. Home is Beijing. And despite the vacancy of my childhood home, the lack of close family ties, and the ever-changing skyline, home is still Beijing. I have no desire to reside there or frequent the place on a regular basis, but around the holiday times nostalgic memories crowd out all the problems surrounding pollution, food safety, and the inability to find adequate cheese.
Every year I tame this longing with trips to the Chinese supermarkets, hours perusing Chinese recipes, and listening to Mando Pop (that is Mandarin Pop, and I’d say only the former two activities are worth indulging in).
This year I set out to cook more Chinese food. A Chinese supermarket opened conveniently close to my home, I downloaded multiple Chinese recipe apps, I have a Chinese mother – what excuse do I have?
I then had my first all-Chinese dinner party (the food, not the guests), and one of the plates featured was this sesame noodle dish. It’s served cold, the sauce is very much to taste, so please take the quantities with a pinch of salt. In terms of the accompanying ingredients – you don’t need all of them if you don’t have all of them. You might want to perk the dish up with some chopped coriander or minced garlic, and some toasted peanuts will add a nice crunch. Consider them freestyle noodles. Oh oh and you can make this vegan with wheat noodles.
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame paste
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar – to taste
1 tsp chili oil – to taste
1 tsp Chinese smoked vinegar (rice vinegar will do) – to taste
1 garlic clove, minced
250g egg noodles (or wheat noodles)
1 carrot, julienned
1/4 leek, white part, julienned
1/2 cucumber, julienned
1 spring onion, finely chopped
make the sauce by whisking al the ingredients together with enough water to make it into quite a thin paste – it should coat the noodles.
Cook noodles according to packaging instructions, then toss with sauce and the remaining ingredients.