Oh man, is it hot here in Pasadena. Like 100 degrees plus and our air conditioners can barely keep up. How unfortunate, then, that with the long, workless, responsibility-free Labor day weekend stretching ahead of me, I couldn’t resist making up for lost time by cooking, even if it meant turning the apartment into a tiny inferno. While Dylan headed up to San Francisco for a boys’ weekend of Wii and karaoke, I took the opportunity to catch up on all of the things that had gone unheeded while I was busy with work and travel…cleaning the house, going through the mail, ironing, laundry, etc… Sounds like quite a drag when I put it that way. But rest assured, there was more than enough time for play as well. (Dylan’s absence also explains why my photos have been pretty lame in the past couple of posts- he took our good camera to chronicle his weekend with the guys.)
Of course with the license to cook whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted this past weekend, I went a little overboard at the farmer’s market, dog-eared a few too many recipes, and now have a mountain of leftovers in my future. First up, a cold sesame noodle to combat the heat generated in the kitchen by having two burners and the oven cranked up (there was some recipe multi-tasking…) I already have a sesame noodle recipe that I just love (and which was posted here several months ago thanks to my guest blogger, Amanda), but that recipe is off-limits at our house given Dylan’s peanut allergy. The current recipe, from Peter Berley’s The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, is peanut-free, relying solely (and heavily) on tahini for the creamy, nutty taste.
I have to say, I missed the peanuts. These noodles were good, but not dazzlingly good. And with a full cup of tahini (I skimped a little), they’re not exactly low-cal or low fat. They’re a good option for the allergic, but for those who can safely consume peanuts, my old favorite recipe is better. The veggies, in long julienned slices thanks to the mandoline, were a little unwieldy to incorporate into the noodles, but on the plus side, this is the rare recipe that tones down the punch of radishes without completely masking their kick. For some reason, I ended up with twice as much sauce and at least three times as many veggies as I could use with the amount of noodles, so I’d suggest perhaps making a whole pound of udon noodles rather than just a 1/2 pound.
Cold sesame noodles with radish and cucumber (yields about 3 servings plus extra sauce and veggies)
1 medium daikon radish (peeled and julienned) or 1 small bunch red radishes, unpeeled and julienned
coarse sea salt (optional)
1/2 pound udon noodles
1 cup tahini
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tbsp finely chopped, peeled ginger
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper plus additional to taste
1/2 cup water plus additional as needed
1 cucumber, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 scallion, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1. Place the radishes in a bowl of cold water and refrigerate while you prepare the noodles and sauce.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Do not add salt if the noodles have salt in their ingredients. Add the noodles and cook until al dente, stirring to prevent sticking. Drain the noodles in a colander and rincse under cold running water until thoroughly chilled.
3. In a blender, combine the tahini, cilantro, honey, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, oil, cayenne, and water, and puree. Add additional water, 1 tbsp at a time, until you have a creamy, smooth, pourable sauce. Add more cayenne to taste, as needed.
4. To serve, sauce the noodles to taste and top with the radish, cucumber, and scallion.