Meatless Mains

Sesame Noodles with Asparagus TipsNoreen & Marion

Whenever people ask what they can make a lot of easily and ahead of time for a party, this is what I suggest. It is endlessly versatile. You can vary the vegetable to go with the season, using, for example, snow peas, roasted peppers, grilled eggplant, carrot julienne strips, mung bean sprouts, and fresh or dried shitake mushrooms.

The Marinade:
1/4 cup sesame oil
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
7 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Chinese black or balsamic vinegar
3 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons chili oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

The Noodles and Asparagus:
2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced on a diagonal
1 14 oz. package thin Chinese egg noodles
10 scallions, including the firm greens, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted until lightly browned

Mix the marinade ingredients together, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the asparagus. Cook until bright green and tender but still firm, just a few minutes. Scoop the asparagus out, rinse it under cold water, and set on a towel to dry.

Pull the noodles apart with your fingers, add them to the boiling water, and give them a quick stir. Boil until tender but not overly soft, tasting them often as they cook. It should take only a few minutes. Pour the noodles into a colander and immediately rinse under cold water. Shake off the excess water.

Toss the noodles with all the marinade and most of the scallions, sesame seeds, and asparagus. Mound them in a bowl or on a platter, then garnish with the remaining asparagus, scallions and sesame seeds.

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