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Cold Sesame Noodles

Don't let the long ingredient list throw you. The end result is a subtle, complex and utterly delicious pasta dish. This is best served at least one day after making it, and keeps for two or three days in the fridge.

10 ounces linguine or spaghetti
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter (not "all natural")
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons chili oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons thawed orange juice concentrate, or 2 tablespoons orange juice
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4-inch knob fresh ginger, minced (or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger)
5 scallions, minced
Zest of 1 lemon, minced
1/2 cup salted peanuts

Boil pasta until just al dente, and remove from heat. Drain and refresh with cold water, tossing pasta as needed, until noodles are completely cold. Transfer pasta to large bowl, and set aside.

Spread sesame seeds evenly on a small tray or cookie sheet. Toast just until they start to turn color (2 to 3 minutes). Transfer seeds from tray to medium mixing bowl immediately to stop cooking. Add all other ingredients except peanuts to bowl containing sesame seeds. Whisk thoroughly. Pour liquid over cooled pasta, and toss to coat.

Chill at least an hour (overnight is even better), and toss again just before serving. Divide pasta evenly among plates and garnish with salted peanuts just before serving.

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer, or 3 to 4 as a main course.

Sunday, September 12, 1999

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