Cold cucumber and shirataki noodle salad with hot Sichuan sesame dressing

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The slippery chewy texture of shirataki noodles works extremely well in this Sichuan-style cold noodle dish. It’s one of my absolute favourites during the rare bouts of sun in London. It’s cold, delicious and satisfies my sadistic craving for spice on a hot summery day. Sichuan peppercorns are what lend this dish (and many other dishes from the Chinese region) its mouth-numbing characteristic. Along with the musky tanginess from black rice vinegar, creamy nuttiness from the sesame paste, and salty soy sauce, the dressing is a perfect balance of punchy flavours. Best of all, there’s no stovetop or oven cooking involved, which is exactly what I need when it’s too hot to do anything more than chopping and stirring.

Ingredients

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Imperial

Shirataki noodle salad

Sichuan-style dressing

  • 1 tsp sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp of soy sauce, good quality. I tend to use Kikkoman regular soy sauce (not reduced salt, and not tamari). Feel free to use a different bottle, but do taste and adjust the seasoning as needed
  • 2 tbsp of black rice vinegar, You can use balsamic vinegar in a pinch, but reduce the amount of sugar. Black rice vinegar has a similar wonderful musky depth, but is less sweet
  • 1 tbsp of tahini, (sesame paste)
  • 1 tbsp of light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp chilli oil
  • 1 tsp groundnut oil
  • water, to loosen
1
Drain the shirataki noodles, rinsing with cold water before setting aside in a sieve. You want to make sure that the noodles are well-drained or the dish will be too watery
2
Toast the Sichuan peppercorns in a dry pan over a medium heat, until they turn fragrant and start to smoke. Remove from the heat and allow them to cool before grinding coarsely. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can put them into a ziplock bag, seal, and crush with something heavy
3
Halve the cucumber lengthwise and remove the watery seeds, before julienning into thin, long strips. Set aside with the noodles
4
Stir together all the ingredients for the dressing, adding just enough water to get a runny sauce. Make sure to stir vigorously so that the sugar dissolves and everything is well combined
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5
Combine the noodles with the vegetables, peanuts and dressing, tossing well to combine. Divide into bowls and finish with a final sprinkle of chopped coriander and crushed peanuts before digging in
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