from my kitchen window

Typhoon Haiyan missed us. It’s been sunny and HOT here. Of course, as soon as the kitchen light snapped on this evening, Roti, the backdoor neighbors’ little white dog barked for his treat. He’s the cutest little beggar, so after his little performance I obliged him with a dog cookie. Khun Yupha who goes walking after dinner with her sister, saw a huge python just lying across their path in the soi.  She immediately scooped up Roti. She thinks it got her other dog last summer. It’s hard to imagine that even in the city of Bangkok, we have all manner of reptiles: pythons, cobras, and water monitor lizards. It’s still a jungle out there. It’s still eat or be eaten. And that reminds me that the true force of nature is lurking in the quiet sois and waterways deep inside the city.

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I’m glad Gigi the Mutt is safe inside our yard. She did so enjoy crunching these bones up afterwards! Andy  had requested Chinese barbecued spare ribs with sesame noodles this evening,  so to cut the heat in the kitchen, I made the ribs in the Sharp Healslo convection oven. It doesn’t generate as much heat as the range oven. I like these sesame noodles, especially when I can add my favorite veggies. This time, I used baby mustard greens and winter melon. I also recommend asparagus, sugar snap peas, and snow pea pods.

recipe redux: chinese barbecued spareribs and sesame noodles

Chinese barbecued spare ribs with string beans in ginger and garlic on a bed of sesame noodles

My sister-in-law requested this recipe for Patricia Yeo’s Sesame Noodles (from Food 52). We had it for dinner made with a home-made sesame dressing rather than with tahini sauce, and the taste was superior. For the Chinese barbecued spare rib recipe follow this link. So, Mimi, bon appétit.

Sesame Noodles (adapted from Patricia Yeo’s Sesame Noodles)

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1-10 minutes depending on whether you are using fresh or dried noodles
Servings: 6 as a main dish, 8 to 10 as a side dish

For the sesame dressing:
3/4 cup white sesame seeds plus 1 tablespoon
7 tablespoons peanut oil (I used rice bran oil)
3 medium or 2 large shallots (I used one large onion)
1 large clove garlic, minced (I used 2 garlic cloves)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
1 teaspoon hot chile paste
3/4 to 1 cup water (or less)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

For the noodles:
12 ounces dry spaghetti pasta (or fresh Chinese egg noodles, if available)
3 tablespoons peanut oil (I used rice bran oil)
1 cup blanched snow peas (I used asparagus in the photo. Green beans will do too)
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced, optional
1 cup daikon radish, thinly sliced, optional
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup chopped peanuts (I used whole peanuts)
1 cup scallions, thinly sliced on the bias

Preparation

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the sesame seeds and toast, stirring,  until golden brown and fragrant, about 5-10 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Put the toasted seeds in a blender. Save the skillet for the next step.

Cook’s Note: The original recipe says to toast the sesame seeds in a 350˚F oven for 10-15 minutes. I find the toasting them on the stove top is faster.

In the empty skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-low heat. Sauté the shallots or onion and garlic until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Add the shallots or onion, garlic, remaining 6 tablespoons peanut oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and chile paste to the sesame seeds in the blender. Blend on high speed just until a thick, rough paste forms, 2 to 3 minutes. Stop blending when most of the seeds have broken up and been puréed. After the paste forms, it will begin to get oily if you continue to purée it, as the seeds begin to give off their oil. Taste and adjust seasonings by adding more sugar, chile paste, and/or soy sauce.

Cook’s Note: The original recipe recommends putting up the puree in the refrigerator for a day, to give the flavors time to develop.  This is not necessary, however.

Bring a large pot of unsalted water to a rolling boil. Cook the noodles according to package directions. If using fresh Chinese egg noodles, gently fluff the noodles and add them to the water, stirring. Return the water to a boil and cook the noodles for just 10 to 30 seconds. Drain the noodles immediately and cool them under cold running water. Drain well. Put the cold noodles in a bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons oil.

To dress the drained cooled noodles, drain off any oil that has gathered on the top of the purée. Whisk about 3/4 cup water into the purée to thin it and to reach a creamy consistency; the sauce will lighten in color and emulsify. Add more water as needed. Add the chopped cilantro to the dressing.

Cook’s Note: Adding the chopped cilantro is optional at this point because it will be added as a garnish on top of the noodles at the end.

In a large bowl, toss the noodles with about half the dressing. Add the snow peas or asparagus, red pepper, and daikon, if using, and gently toss to combine (using a pair of silicone tipped tongs is recommended). Taste and add more dressing if desired. Put the noodles in a large serving bowl or on individual plates. Garnish with the cilantro leaves, chopped peanuts, and sliced scallions, or pass little bowls of the garnishes at the table.