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Recipe for cold sesame noodles {vegetarian}

Cold sesame noodles, just like your favorite takeout restaurant.

Earlier this summer, my husband Ted and I, and our friends Mary and Matt, snagged lawn tickets to hear James Taylor in concert at Tanglewood, in the beautiful Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts. Picnics, complete with candles and wine, are de rigeur at Tanglewood, and our annual tradition involves shopping at Guido's Fresh Marketplace in Pittsfield for salads, cheese, and fruit for our picnic basket. On a hunch, we bought a double portion of cold sesame noodles, and I'm glad we did; we ate every bit. When a dish grabs hold of your taste memory and won't let go, you must beg, borrow or steal the recipe and make that dish your own.

Cold sesame noodles.

Cold sesame noodles

From the pantry, you'll need: dark soy sauce, rice vinegar, chili paste with garlic, brown sugar, creamy peanut butter, sesame oil, ginger root, linguine, sesame seeds.

Adapted from this recipe on Epicurious.com, and inspired by cold sesame noodles we bought at Guido's Fresh Marketplace in Pittsfield, 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.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Chinese "spaghetti and meat sauce"
Rice noodles salad with shrimp
Asparagus, pepper and peanut soba
Mee goreng
Shrimp lo mein

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Sesame choy sum, from Adventures in Bentomaking
Sesame-ginger fusion cabbage, from Grow. Cook. Eat.
Honey mustard chicken salad with sesame-soy dressing, from Foodilicious Malaysia
Korean barbecued beef, from Apple A Day
Kung pao shrimp, from In Good Taste

Sesame noodles, better than take-out!

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


YUM! This sounds easy, quick and delicious - plus you're a James Taylor fan! FTW!!!

i LOVE guido's. i was born in pittsfield, and every time i get to visit we always go there. it is the best place to go pre-tanglewood!

yummy! one of my fav noodle combo!

One of my favorite spots in the country. I have been to Guido's many times, and I was quite jealous that you got to hear JT in such a lovely location. Still wondering if I can make it up there this season, but in the meantime, I will enjoy this terrific noodle salad!

Oh, those cold sesame noodles look divine! I don't think one can get gluten-free dark soy sauce, but I bet I could improvise with some gf soy sauce and molasses perhaps. Plus, gf noodles are easy. I was actually supposed to see James Taylor with a friend in the spring and then got glutened and was home very ill for several days. I was so bummed. :-( So happy you had that wonderful time seeing him with your hubby and friends, Lydia!


Heidi, aren't we all JT fans? It was a wonderful concert, a gigantic sing-along with great picnic food!

Tara, we've been going to Guido's for many years. I wish I lived closer.

Anh, me too.

TW, I'd love to get a Guido's in Rhode Island, but I love going to the Berkshires, too. It's an annual joy for us.

Shirley, I think you can add brown sugar to GF soy sauce to simulate the dark soy. Hope you can see JT while he's still performing. His voice isn't what it used to be, but it's still pretty wonderful.

I like my sesame noodles to be really sesame-y. Do you think I could substitute tahini for the pb?

EB, absolutely! You might want to adjust the amount of sesame oil, or it might be just right.

i love tanglewood too, but when its not humid. it's gets nasty humid up there.
back 2 years ago? i think you made this lo mein noodle dish and it was fabulous. so i COMPLETELY trust your noodles dishes.

For Shirley: after reading ingredient lists on many many soy sauce bottles, we found one from Vietnam, labeled 'Seasoning Soya Sauce' with ingredients water, soya bean, salt, sugar, sodium benzoate. I have been using this as a stand in for dark soy sauce. Lydia, have you seen this? We got it a A. Dong, which appeared in the market feature. In 150 ml, sugar is 2.7g, sodium is 18.3g.
...And the noodles, a favorite, so I have to try your recipe.

Vanillasugar, we always bring a citronella candle for our "table" at Tanglewood, just in case. Thanks for the lo mein love (it's still my absolute favorite, really); I'm pretty sure this version of sesame noodles will make you happy.

Susan, thanks so much for the info about the g-free dark soy substitute. I haven't seen it -- but you're giving me another reason to make a visit to A. Dong market!

Oh MY - this just screams "SUMMER!" to me!

Donna, I know what you mean. This is a perfect picnic dish.

This is definitely the kind of meal that I want to be making during this heat! Sounds incredible =)

I just love James Taylor, I remember going to one of his concerts years ago in NYC. Love sesame noodles, we've had them lots this summer.

Peggy, there's nothing like cold noodles on a hot summer day. Hope you like them.

Jeanette, it was incredibly lovely to be sitting with thousands of JT fans, all singing away. And with a great picnic, too!

I love a perfect summer event like that!
and I figure if I jump in the car now i can be at Guido's in about an hour! I feel a road trip coming on!

I can finally throw away the stack of recipes that I have collected over the years in my quest for perfect cold sesame noodles. I made the sauce exactly as the recipe outlined and it was DELICIOUS! Thank you! :)

Maurine, I'm so glad you made the noodles! I'm always thrilled when a reader has a good experience with one of my recipes, especially noodles because I'm such a noodle-holic. Thanks, too, for taking time to come back and leave a comment. You've made my day.

James Taylor and sesame noodles? Sounds like heaven. Actually, anywhere like heaven. ;-)

I have always been intimidated with Asian recipes because I've never even come close to what things taste like (that I've purchased). Tripped across your blog by accident the other day and just couldn't resist trying this recipe. Just made this and the hubby and I are both shocked that "I" made this. It's absolutely scrumptious! Hope your other recipes are just as tasty.

I live in Pittsfield and thanks to you, *may* never need to buy these from Guido's again.

I make them last week; they were such a BIG hit that I"m making them again tonight and probably *often* from now on.

Thanks so much!

tried this today! i substituted 1tbsp of sriracha for the chili paste, and added ~1tbsp of coconut milk. the sauce was creamy and had just the right amount of spice! thanks for the recipe

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