Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cold & Not So Cold Sesame Noodles

I have found a new love: cold sesame noodles.

I know this is a New York staple, but it’s new to me. I made it from a recipe I found in Diana Shaw’s wonderful cookbook The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook. It is a very simple recipe. I changed it a little bit (so all blame is mine).


  • 2 qt or larger saucepan
  • 1qt or larger bowl
  • microplane grater
  • tablespoon measure
  • fork or small whisk
  • colander or fine mesh strainer
  • small, heat resistant measuring cup


1 clove garlic, freshly grated
2 Tablespoons Ginger, peeled & freshly grated
1 Tablespoon Peanut butter
1 Tablespoon Tahini
1 Tablespoon Sesame oil
1 Tablespoon Soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon roasted Sesame seeds
1 Scallion, finely sliced, well into the green
1 bundle (8oz) Sobo noodles
Salt to taste, although you shouldn’t need it.
¼ Cup cooked pasta water, you may only use 2 tablespoons


  1. Fill the saucepan ⅔rds full with water & set on high to boil.
  2. Grate the garlic into a bowl, then grate the ginger. Add peanut butter, tahini, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Wisk together. Add sesame seeds and scallions.
  3. Cook sobo noodles as per the package directions.
    OR place noodles in the boiling water. Stir to keep noodles separated. When water returns to a rolling boil, reduce heat enough to keep noodles moving. Stand over the pot, because sobo noodles will boil over fast. “A watched pot never boils” does not apply to sobo noodles. Cook until the center is cooked but still firm. Remove about ¼ cup of the pasta water before you drain the pasta and set aside.
  4. Drain. Rinse in cold water so that the noodles do not stick together.
  5. Toss the noodles in the sauce. Add 2 tablespoons of the pasta water. You will need only enough pasta water to toss the pasta until it is evenly covered with sauce. Discard the rest of the pasta water.
  6. Refrigerate the pasta at least three hours or over night.

Delicious variation: Replace rice vinegar with fresh lime.

  • juice of ½ of a lime
  • zest of ½ lime

What do you do with the other half of the lime? A good reason to double the recipe.

Another variation that I love because I can’t always wait three hours: When the noodles are cooked perfectly, toss a whole lot of (a real measurement) broccoli. When the cooking water returns to a simmer, the broccoli is done. Drain broccoli & noodle mixture in a fine mesh strainer, but do not rinse. Toss in the sauce. Eat right away.

Note on ginger: a thumb sized piece of ginger will produce two tablespoons of grated ginger. Also, if you grate the garlic first, then the ginger, the micrograter will be easier to clean. (Follow that with the lime zest!)

Note on peanut butter: I have read that real New York sesame noodles uses regular – sugar added, hydrogenated oil – peanut butter. I only had the “natural” stuff and I prefer it. Try whatever peanut butter you have on hand.

Note on sesame oil: “Roasted” or “toasted” if you can find it.

Note on soy sauce: Ms. Shaw lists low sodium soy sauce in the recipe, but I don’t salt the noodle water so I find that regular soy sauce is fine.

Note on the pasta water: You want to add enough pasta water so that the sauce is lose enough to coat the noodles. The sauce will thicken as it cools. The extra pasta water helps to keep the noodles from sticking when cold.

Note on roasted sesame seeds: I found roasted sesame seeds in the Asian food aisle, much cheaper than regular sesame seeds in the spice aisle. If you can only find regular sesame seeds, roast them in a small frying pan (or the noodle sauce pan before you fill it with water) for five minutes on high heat, constantly moving the pan over the burner until you can smell the sesame and they turn light brown. If they turn black, you have gone too far.

    Use only one tablespoon to measure:
  1. Scoop the peanut butter
  2. Pour the tahini, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar (no need to measure the lime juice.)
  3. Pour the sesame seeds.
  4. By the time you scoop one or two tablespoons of pasta water, the spoon should nearly be clean.

Saturday, April 26, 2014


I was shopping for something for lunch. Something beans & greens. I wasn't in the mood for salad. There wasn't a salad dressing choice to choke down. The 'fat-free' dressings in their plastic packets were so full of chemicals and starches that I'd be afraid to pick them up, let alone eat them. There were sandwiches with big, fluffy bread or the 'dieter's choice' a wrap with more calories in the lard laden wheat tortilla then in the rest of the sandwich. Maybe a spinach salad with chick-peas and half a lemon for dressing? That's doable. A bag of spinach, a can of chick-peas, maybe some cherry tomatoes, a fresh lemon and I have lunch for a four days for the price of a sandwich.

While I was thinking chickpeas, I considered hummus, maybe with those little carrots. That is, until I saw the price of prepared hummus! You must be kidding. Hummus is super easy, super good for you and super cheap. So while I was still in the supermarket, I picked up a bag of dry chickpeas and a red pepper. I had garlic, olive oil, parsley, and salt at home.


Makes about two cups


1 C dried Chickpeas (garbanzo beans or ceci)
1   Red pepper
¼ C Olive oil
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tbl Parsley (chopped if fresh)
1 tsp Salt


  • Medium bowl
  • Saucepan with lid
  • Timer
  • Tongs
  • Paper lunch bag
  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Microplane grater
  • Food processor with a small bowl attachment or
    a potato masher and a immersion blender.


  1. The night before: Place chickpeas in the small bowl and cover with water, to one inch over the top of the chickpeas.
  2. The next day: Drain & rinse chickpeas.
  3. Place in the medium saucepan & cover chickpeas with water, to an inch over the top of the chickpeas.
  4. Cook over high heat to bring to a boil.
  5. Cover. Turn off the heat. Allow to sit, covered, for one hour.
    1. While the chickpeas are cooking, prepare the red pepper
    2. Place the red pepper on a lit burner.
    3. Turn the pepper with the tongs, until all the skin of the pepper is blackened and blistered
    4. Place the blackened red pepper in the paper bag, fold the top shut.
    5. Let the red pepper steam in the bag for 15 minutes until the pepper is cool enough to handle.
    6. Remove the red pepper from the bag and remove the blackened skin by hand. You can run the pepper under a small stream of warm water to remove skin, but don't worry about the very small flecks that you can't remove.
    7. Core and stem the red pepper. Roughly chop it. Set aside.
  6. Peel & grate garlic.
  7. After an hour, check the chickpeas. They should be softened but not mushy.
  8. Drain the chickpeas, reserving the cooking water. Rinse in cold water.
  9. Process the chickpeas in a food processor until smooth, or mash with a potato masher.
  10. Grate the garlic on the microplane grater or mince garlic.
  11. Add garlic & red pepper.
  12. Process in a food processor or use an immersion blender to puree until smooth.
  13. Slowly add olive oil, until smooth. Add the cooking liquid if the hummus isn't smooth enough for you. Use the rest of the cooled cooking water for your plants.
  14. Add parsley and mix until just combined.

Note on the the chickpeas: You can boil them for an hour, two if you didn't soak them over night. Just remember to skim the foam off the top and don't let them boil over. My way uses less energy and cooks them perfectly.
You can also used canned chickpeas, but the hummus won't taste as good.

Note on the red pepper: If the idea of charring a pepper on your stovetop gives you the heebie-jeebies, don't worry. You can core and dice the pepper and microwave it.

Note on the salt: There is not a lot of salt in this. You can add more, but try it without additional salt first. Processed food has made us used to too much salt; fight the urge to make this potato chip salty.

Note on the olive oil: A quarter cup of olive oil! Yes. You can divide this up into four servings and have lunch ready most of the week. That is only about a tablespoon of olive oil per serving. If that is still too much, substitute more of the cooking water for the oil.

This recipe makes a lovely orange hued hummus with green flecks, but this is only the begining, use your imagination
Variations: Maybe a little lemmon will brighten it up. Some chopped spinich would add more greens to these beans. Onion? Other roasted vegetables? Finely chopped jalapinos? It is all worth exploring.