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Do you know what it feels to always live under the shadow of someone else?

Well, say heh-lloooo to black sesame.

You see… this poor fella.  Somewhere during the evolution of vegetation, as if it was funny as a cruel and practical joke, the universe thought it’d be hilarious to create the all-star white sesame seeds which of course exploded in popularity all over in paste-form, oil-form or even as unnecessary decorations over buns, then, again because it’s funny, to also create something else that’s 100% identical in shape, size and appearance, but only… in black.  Now, anyone with a bit of knowledge on sociology can assume the injustice that followed.  Sidelined, neglected… keeps getting pulled over on its way into a recipe but rarely makes it…

Black sesame has long been the victim of food-racism.

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OK, guilty as charged, but I have been trying to right that wrong.  I have been trying to introduce you to this under-appreciated ingredient, especially, looking for possible ways to tell you about a classic dish worthy of being called one of Taiwan’s signature cuisine, and a real catchy name, too – The 3 cups chickens.  But obviously, there are three quintessential seasonings for this recipe – Taiwanese rice wine, soy sauce, and of course, the irreplaceable, one and only, black sesame oil.

Right, you don’t know what that is.  It’s ok, most people don’t, most people aside from those with an acute Asian background, or perhaps runs a meticulously stocked Chinese supermarket, don’t know that there’s something such as black sesame oil.  Different from the common toasted sesame oil made from white sesames, black sesame oil is… well, let’s just say, it’s white on steroid.  It’s more pungent, more powerful… deeper and more complex, a best-kept-secret foundation for many gorgeous recipes, the lifeline, the liquid brown gold…  But oops… you don’t have it.

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So I thought, before we all go nuts trying to extract our own black sesame oil, slip on the grease and crack our heads open on the edge of kitchen counter and literally make a mess of ourselves, we will do an inspired adaption of three cups chicken, with no compromise on flavours, in a – who’s not gonna love this? – black sesame and ginger chicken noodle form.

I know I had you at “sesame noodle”.  But now imagine you best-ever, sworn-by and stamped-on sesame noodle (which I believe is this), then douse it with edible diesel then set it on an eternal flame of happiness.  That’s just about how much more tasty and robust this black sesame noodle is.  It embodies all the soul-elements from its inspiration, the condensed black-label of seseme-ness in a mix of soy sauce and rice wine, the prominent gingery and garlicky bite, the spiciness from red chilis and oil, and last but not least, the unmistakable fragrance from a truckload of Thai basils.  Truckloads, guys.  Truckloads.

It won’t be pretty.  You’ll have “dirt” stuck between your teeth.  But don’t say I didn’t warn you that you couldn’t care less.  Because for once, not politically incorrect to say, once you go black, you never go back.




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Servings: 4

Because I ran out of Thai basil, I used Italian sweet basil instead, which I’ll admit, was the kind of thing that drives me crazy if someone else did it.  Because thai basil (same as Taiwanese basil) tastes completely different than Italian sweet basil, much more pungent and aromatic, and is essential to the flavour-profile of this dish.  So please try your best to find them, but all else fails, fine… a milder/more boring Italian basil will do.

* Toasted sesame oil is made from toasted white sesame, different from black sesame oil.

I didn’t include a chili sauce to go with the noodle because boy, does it go perfectly with this one.

Other black sesame recipes.


Serving Size: 4


  • 1 set (2 pieces/13 oz/370 grams) chicken breast, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 3 servings of fresh ramen noodles
  • 2 large handful of Thai basil leaves (or Italian basils if unavailable)
  • 2 small red chili, finely diced
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • Roasted salted peanuts or pine nuts to serve
  • This chili oil to serve
  • 1 cup (75 grams) black sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) Taiwanese rice wine, or Japanese sake
  • 4 tbsp (60 grams) soy sauce
  • 1 tsp extra dark soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbsp (23 grams) smooth peanut butter
  • 2 1/2 tbsp (33 grams) toasted sesame oil
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper


  1. TO PREPARE THE CHICKEN: Evenly mix the thinly sliced chicken breast-strips with toasted sesame oil, salt, grated ginger, cornstarch, ground white pepper and baking soda. Let marinate for at least 30 min. Bring a large pot of water to a gentle simmer, then stir in the marinated chicken to disperse them evenly in the hot water. Poach until they are just cooked (approx 30 seconds), then remove with a slotted spoon. Set aside and let cool completely.
  2. TO MAKE THE SAUCE: Toast the black sesame seeds on a flat skillet over medium heat. Constantly stir the seeds which will start to making popping sounds then subside, approx 3 min. To check if they are properly toasted, rub a seed in between your finger, and if it crushes easily and smells nutty, it's ready. Immediately transfer into a blender to prevent burning.
  3. Simmer chicken stock and rice wine (or sake) in a pot for 5 min until the alcohol has evaporated. Add to the blender with the toasted black sesames, along with soy sauce, extra dark soy sauce, grated ginger, garlic, smooth peanut butter, toasted sesame oil, sugar and ground white pepper. Blend on high for 2 min, scraping down the sides a few time, until the mixture is smoothly ground. Set aside.
  4. TO PUT THE DISH TOGETHER: Bring a large pot of water to boil, then cook the ramen noodle according to package instruction. Rinse under cold water after cooking to cool complete, drain well then transfer to a large bowl. Add the poached chicken strips, Thai basil leaves, diced red chili and chili flakes, then toss everything together with the black sesame-sauce (you may not need all of it). Sprinkle with toasted peanuts or pine nuts, and drizzle with more toasted sesame oil and chili oil
  5. The noodle is even better the next day.


3 servings of ramen noodles will feed 4 people with this recipe after it's mixed with the rest of the ingredients.

Thai basil leaf is an essential ingredient for this dish. But if it's absolutely impossible to find for you, substitute with Italian basil for a lighter and milder flavour.


  • Dulcistella

    January 7, 2015 at 7:01 PM Reply

    haha! Sorry, but your “ONCE YOU GO BLACK, YOU NEVER GO BACK” reminded me that:
    I’m still laughing!!

  • Belinda@themoonblushbaker

    January 7, 2015 at 7:17 PM Reply

    No one can argue that the use of black sesame is under rated in food circles. Never again I say! Delicious, mouth watering noodles. Yum :)

  • Pamela In Tokyo

    January 7, 2015 at 8:17 PM Reply

    It seems I can easily get black sesame oil from Amazon here in Japan. Of course, I have the readily available toasted sesame oil made from white sesame seeds. Would I just replace the toasted with the black?? Hmmm, interesting. I didn’t even know such a thing existed. Here in japan, we sprinkle black sesame seeds and salt on rice. That’s about it. I am looking forward to widening my eating experience.

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      January 7, 2015 at 9:43 PM Reply

      Pamela, I wouldn’t use black sesame oil instead of white in this recipe. I think it would make it too strong with so much black sesame paste already.

  • Betty

    January 8, 2015 at 12:25 AM Reply

    Oh my gosh Mandy, I just recently found your blog and I’m in love!! My parents were born in Shanghai, so I grew up eating home-style Chinese food, so I definitely understand what you mean about black sesame as under appreciated. I LOVE black sesame, and it was a constant flavor when I was growing up. In fact, I just made pancakes with black sesame (soon on the blog), and it has such a strong, nutty, complex flavor. In my opinion, white sesame can’t give the same effect. Anyways, I will definitely be trying out your recipe. And beautiful photos!

  • Linda | Brunch with Joy

    January 8, 2015 at 1:43 AM Reply

    Mandy, this noodle dish sounds ah-ma-zing! I hear you when it comes to basil and my favorite is the real Thai basil. I’m in love already….

  • Christina @ The Beautiful Balance

    January 8, 2015 at 6:30 AM Reply

    Thai basil or no thai basil this looks insanely tasty! Agreed, black sesame seeds are totally underrated and I’m happy you’re making a statement with them now!

  • Sarah @ Bonjour Sucre

    January 8, 2015 at 12:16 PM Reply

    Yum that looks great – fragrant and delicious! My stomach is rumbling… Thanks for sharing.

  • Allison

    January 8, 2015 at 11:25 PM Reply

    Looking forward to using my black sesame seeds for more than just garnish! What’s the estimated weight of the ramen noodles used? Looks like maybe more than a pound?

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      January 8, 2015 at 11:55 PM Reply

      Allison, oh no I didn’t weigh the noodle. But it was three handfuls… Not much clarification but I hope it helps!

  • ellie | fit for the soul

    January 9, 2015 at 2:33 PM Reply

    Dude you don’t know how much I laaaaava black sesame!!! I do love sesame oil and all, but the seeds are so flavorful and potent even when sprinkled in the littlest amounts. It’s so good on the Korean manju pastry too! (Okay any pastry really) And I hehe’d at your “setting into eternal flame of happiness” description, so clever as always Mandy!!! ;)

  • ellie | fit for the soul

    January 9, 2015 at 2:37 PM Reply

    I meant to write “but the BLACK SEEDS are so flavorful….” :D

  • Christine

    January 13, 2015 at 12:23 PM Reply

    Serves 4? Serves 1!

  • Alexis

    July 22, 2015 at 2:19 AM Reply

    I have sesame seeds that are already grounded, how many cups should I use for this recipe?

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      July 22, 2015 at 12:44 PM Reply

      Alexis, it would be the same amount in weight (75 grams), but if you don’t have a scale, I would start with 3/4 cup and add more if needed :)

  • Angela

    December 14, 2015 at 10:57 PM Reply

    Unbelievably amazing :O I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. Even more so than your Crack Slurp Noodles. Oh and that chilli oil. Smells like heaven. Tastes like heaven.
    The chicken tasted fabulous. I used thighs cause on that day they were cheaper than breast, and they were super juicy and full of flavour.


    July 11, 2016 at 5:20 AM Reply

    Tried this and the flavor was great, but mine turned out pretty dry. Even after adding a but more oil to the noodles when putting it all together, but it was still pretty dry. Not sure what I need to do next time to thin out the sauce (mine was more like paste) without changing the flavor. I used fresh noodles (organic, not ramen style) from the Asian market. Tip: I cooked my noodles using the same water I poached the chicken in.

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      July 11, 2016 at 1:53 PM Reply

      Samantha, it’s perfectly fine to add more water to thin out the sauce :) But remember to adjust the seasoning as well.

  • Jess

    December 11, 2016 at 6:08 AM Reply

    If serving the next day, do I toss with the sauce just before serving?

  • Robert G McConnell

    August 22, 2018 at 3:13 AM Reply

    This is a brilliant, creative dish. You have a well tuned palate. Keep reaching.

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