Barbara Tropp’s Tangy Cold Noodles


My friend, Barbara Tropp, left us all too soon. Barbara was a Princeton Chinese scholar studying Chinese poetry when she arrived in Taiwan in the 1970s. Her experience there transformed her into an avid taster and translator of Chinese cuisine. My copy of her 1982 cookbook, The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking, is stained, marked, and worn. Every time I pull it from the shelf my heart warms, as I relive my wonderful memories of her through her recipes.

Here is my interpretation of one of her most well-known dishes, Orchid’s Tangy Cool Noodles.

Tangy Cold Noodles


  • 1 pound long, thin noodles, fresh Chinese or dried Italian type
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons black soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon hot chili oil
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion rings

Optional garnish:

  • scallion rings
  • chopped cilantro, basil, or mint (alone or in any combination)


Combine the sauce ingredients.

Cook and drain the noodles. Toss the warm noodles with the sauce and the scallions.

Taste and correct the seasonings if needed.

These noodles are best made in advance. The flavors meld and develop over time. Leave them out at room temperature for several hours if you want to serve them that day. Place them overnight in the refrigerator if you want to use them in the next day or two. Toss them occasionally to distribute the seasonings.

Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

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