Adapted from this recipe on Epicurious.com, and inspired by cold sesame noodles we bought at Guido's Marketplace in Lenox, Massachusetts. Serves 6.
3 Tbsp dark soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp chili paste with garlic
2 Tbsp firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3 Tbsp sesame oil, divided
1 tsp grated fresh ginger root
1 lb linguine or lo mein noodles
2 tsp sesame seeds, black or white or a mix
1/2 cup thinly sliced seedless (English) cucumber
1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
A few teaspoons of chopped scallion, for garnish (optional)
In a small saucepan, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, chili paste, brown sugar, peanut butter, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, and ginger. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring frequently with a whisk until the sauce is smooth, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a stock pot. Add the linguine, and cook until al dente, approximately 7 minutes (taste to be sure). Remove half a cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain the noodles, rinse under cold water, and drain again.
Put the pasta in a mixing bowl with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. Toss well to coat the pasta. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
While the pasta is cooling, add the sesame seeds to a dry, nonstick frying pan. Toast over low heat, shaking the pan frequently, until the seeds just begin to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Remove the pan from heat and set aside.
When the pasta is cold, remove it from the refrigerator. Stir in the sliced cucumber and red pepper, and the sesame seeds. If needed to thin the sauce (which will thicken as it cools), whisk in the reserved pasta cooking water, one spoonful at a time, and add the sauce to the noodles. Toss well to combine.
Garnish with scallions (optional), and serve chilled.