Tahini in most US super markets is of Middle Eastern origin, but it is an ideal substitute for Chinese sesame paste, which is usually only sold in Chinese markets. Noodle salad with sesame paste is a very traditional and basic Chinese dish and it is usually made with thinly sliced cucumber and carrots. Since I swiped a few packs of fresh baby corn from our Marco Polo kitchen, I made mine today with blanched fresh baby corn, bean sprouts and sweet snap peas. I also added shredded chicken breast into the noodle to make it a more substantial meal, though the dish is perfectly delicious without the meat as a vegetarian dish.
Noodle Salad with Tahini Soy Dressing
200 g soba noodle (I used soba noodle because it is slightly healthier compared to Chinese noodle)
5 to 6 fresh baby corn
3/4 cup sweet snap peas
3/4 cup bean sprouts
1 to 2 red chili peppers
1 poached chicken breast
Green onion and toasted sesame seeds for garnish
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Ingredients for Dressing:
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon Chinese peppercorn
6 to 8 thin slices ginger
2 stocks green onion, cut into 2 inch sections
1 chili pepper, chopped
2 tablespoon cooking oil
1 to 2 tablespoon water for thinning if desired
To make the dressing, heat the oil in a wok or sauce pan on medium heat. Add the ginger, chili pepper, green onion and Chinese pepper corn. Stir until aromatic and browned but not burned. Discard the the ginger, chili, green onion and pepper corn. Save the fragrant oil.
Blend the oil with tahini, rice vinegar, honey, garlic and water in a blender until smooth.
Cook the noodle according to package direction to al dente. Rinse the noodle and drain thoroughly. Mix with sesame oil to prevent from sticking and clumping.
Blanch the vegetables in a pot of boiling water. You only need to leave the vegetable in the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Rinse with cold water and drain thoroughly.
Boil a pot of water with a few slices of ginger. When the water is boiling, add the chicken breast with half cup Shao Xing cooking wine. Let boil for a minute or two with the lid closed. Turn off the stove and let it sit in the hot water for another 10 minutes. Let cool and shred by hand.
Mix everything together with the dressing and garnish with chopped green onion and sesame seeds. Serve at room temperature.
If you are pressed for time, you can also make a simpler dressing by mixing together the tahini, soy sauce, rice vinegar and garlic with 1 tablespoon of water in the blender without making the fragrant oil, but the fragrant oil does give it an extra special flavor. Add a teaspoon or two of Sriracha sauce if you want a little heat to the dressing.
You can also try the original Chinese sesame paste noodle with thinly sliced cucumber and carrots to the noodle.