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My wife always orders cold sesame noodles from our local Chinese restaurant so I decided to try and make my own. I found this version to be the most flavorful and the one that I could easily find all the ingredients for at my local supermarket. It's topped with shredded duck legs because they can hold up to the strong flavors of the noodles. You can either eat this dish hot or cold, it's great either way. You can add more or less chile-garlic paste depending on how spicy you want it.
There are a few options when you want to shred duck legs. Many people recommend 167°F (75°C) for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. This time and temperature combination also works well for duck confit. Cooking them at 144°F (62.2°C) for 18 to 24 hours is also highly recommended for a less fall-apart texture.
Duck legs can also be lightly cured first to add flavor, which is something I do for this recipe. Just spice the duck legs, cover them with salt and sugar, then let them sit for up to 12 hours.
Mix together the salt and sugar in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix together the remaining spices then coat the dug legs with them. Place the duck legs in a plastic bag or non-reactive container and pack the salt and sugar cure evenly around them. Refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.
Preheat a water bath to 167°F (75°C).
Wash the cure off of the duck legs then place into a sous vide bag and seal. Cook the duck for 16 to 24 hours.
Once cooked, remove the duck from the sous vide bag and pat dry. Sear the duck legs in a hot pan until crispy. Remove the meat from the bones and shred.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and then add the noodles. Cook until tender but still slightly firm. Drain the noodles.
Blend together the sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame paste, peanut butter, and brown sugar. Stir in the chile-garlic paste, garlic, scallions, sesame seeds, and ginger. Toss the noodles with the sauce. If serving cold you can let them cool and then refrigerate them at this point.
Place a pile of noodles on a plate or in a bowl. Top with the cucumber, carrots, and sprouts. Add the peanuts then the shredded duck. Sprinkle with the cilantro and sesame seeds, then serve.
Because xanthan gum is a modernist ingredient, the amounts for this component are given in metric by weight. Learn more about how to measure modernist ingredients in this article.
I usually add 0.15% xanthan gum when I blend together the oil, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar for the noodle sauce. This helps with the mouthfeel of the sauce and it clings to the noodles better.