Celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern's recipe for sesame noodles comes straight from his travels in Southeast Asia. Soy sauce, rice vinegar, and peanut butter are only the beginning: Chef Zimmern encourages everyone to visit an Asian market for fresh Chinese egg noodles, Sichuan peppercorns, and toasted sesame paste (or you can go online).
Noodles: Bring a large pot of salted water to a simmer (water should be as salty as seawater). Meanwhile, gently unroll the fresh noodle “nests” to aerate and separate the strands prior to boiling. Place noodles into simmering water, gently stir and cook until al dente, 2½–3 minutes. Drain, then immediately rinse under cold water to chill. Toss with 1–2 teaspoons peanut oil and set aside.
Sauce, part 1: In a blender, combine peppercorns, peanut oil, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, mirin, sesame paste, peanut butter, shallot, ½ chili, garlic, ginger, and a few sprigs cilantro. Set aside.
Prepare garnish: Cut a 2½-inch piece from the cucumber; slice piece into wide planks, stack, and slice into matchsticks. (Reserve the remainder for another use, or use as additional garnish.) Slice remaining half of chili into fine matchsticks. Thinly slice light green part of the scallion on a 45-degree angle. Set garnish aside.
Sauce, part 2: Purée sauce until it is smooth with a thin consistency, about 1 minute. Taste to adjust the seasoning with salt if necessary. Makes about 2 cups. (Sauce can be stored in the refrigerator up to 3 days.)
Assembly: Evenly divide noodles into 4 bowls. Using a bulb baster, drizzle 3-4 tablespoons of sauce over the noodles. Garnish each bowl with a sprig of cilantro, scallions, fresh chili, and a little bundle of cucumber. Serve immediately.