Not too long ago (or at least that's how it feels), I was a struggling actress in New York City. I held down a number of jobs to pay for acting classes, head shots, therapy, and rent for my sublet in the Meatpacking District, all while exploring a culinary world I'd never seen growing up in Cleveland. I learned to appreciate the stretchy center of an authentic French croissant when I worked room service at the Hotel Parker Meridien, delight in the savory glory of the spinach empanadas I sold at a tiny spot on 52nd Street, and seek solace in cold sesame noodles from a nearby Chinese restaurant during my graveyard shift as a proofreader at Morgan Stanley. Sweet and slippery with a tangy bite and a peanutty crunch, those 2 a.m. noodles helped get me through the dreaded hours before the dawn. Looking back, I realize that every experience, even (or especially!) if it's difficult, is an opportunity for personal and sometimes professional growth. My advice? Cherish all the adventures life brings your way—you never know where that late-night meal will lead.

Serves 4


  • 8 ounces Chinese egg noodles, cappellini, or pad thai–style rice noodles
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger, or 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp. sriracha or other red chile sauce
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, 1 grated, 1 thinly sliced
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup salted roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped


Bring a pot of water to a boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water.

Cook the noodles in boiling water until al dente, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water and soak for 5 minutes, until well chilled. Drain again, return to the bowl, toss with the peanut oil, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame seeds, honey, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and sriracha. Fold in the grated cucumber, half the scallion, and half the peanuts. Add the chilled pasta and toss to coat thoroughly. Transfer to a serving bowl, twirling the pasta into a nest shape. Top with the sliced cucumber, cilantro, and the remaining scallion and peanuts.


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