February 7, 2012

Pin It Spicy Soba Noodles with Shiitakes

Taken From Smitten Kitchen

Week 6

As I have been eating some form of soup for the better part of 2012, I decided it was time to mix it up and try something new.  When I made the carrot miso soup, I had to buy sesame oil for the garnish.  Little did I know, I already had a whole bottle in the cupboard! So now I have TWO bottles of sesame oil and was looking for a recipe that would utilize some of my sesame oil surplus.  I noticed they sell sesame seeds at Trader Joe's (by far my favorite place to buy spices. They have all the basics and are all around $2-3) and thought one of those cold buckwheat sesame noodle salads sounded good.  I perused Smitten Kitchen, since she has a ton of recipes organized in a logical manner, and found this one to try.

After running some errands this weekend, Tom suggested wandering around Japan Town as he had never really explored that area.  We went into one of the markets and found all sorts of exciting things (many of which we had no idea what they were because we couldn't read the packaging). My favorite was the Milk Chocolate Salty Pocky sticks!  Anyway, I did go in there with a purpose, as I’d had buckwheat noodles on the brain.  I found a pack of round soba noodles, grabbed my Pocky sticks and was good to go.

I tweaked this recipe a bit, because as you may have noticed after looking at title and list of ingredients, it calls for hot pepper paste.  Well we all know spicy things hurt my mouth so I tend to avoid them.  For all you spice lovers, I’m sure this would be very good spicy, but I wasn’t about to test it.  I ran my fifth half marathon this past Sunday and testing out my stomach’s durability after long runs is never a good idea.

As a side note, the race I just ran was the Kaiser Half Marathon in SF.  I slept poorly the night before, I wasn’t feeling great at the beginning of the race and had a side crap immediately upon crossing the starting line, but somehow managed to get my personal record of 1:53:29, with a 8:39 pace!  I was pretty surprised since I didn’t feel like I was running particularly fast and I had to use the “facilities” around mile 5 , but I beat my previous best time by over 3 minutes. Wahoo!

Anyway, so I left out the spice. The other thing you may have noticed was that this recipe doesn’t actually call for sesame oil, doh!  Since that was the whole point of this recipe idea, I added it anyway, probably around 2 tablespoons. Other than that, I followed the rest of the recipe and directions, although I may have been a little heavy on the ginger and a little light on the mushrooms. I also used fresh edamame instead of frozen (because TJ’s sells them) so I just added them in the end instead of boiling them with the noodles.  But whatever, it's cooking, and there is definitely room for tweaking and experimentation.  I wouldn’t alter baking recipes so much, unless you really know what you are doing, as that is much more of a science.  My friend Jenn actually showed me this awesome book recently called Culinary Reactions: The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking.  It’s about all the science behind cooking and baking.  I suppose if I read this whole thing I could start tweaking and maybe even creating my own baking recipes, but I’m not quite there yet (I’ve only read the table of contents).

Other than burning my first batch of sesame seeds (watch them carefully as they can burn quickly), this recipe turned out nicely.  It was tasty, pretty simple, didn’t have too many ingredients (always a plus in my book) and I now have a gaboon* of sesame noodle salad in my fridge. This would definitely be a good dinner party/potluck recipe as it makes so much and can be served cold/room temperature.

*Made up word by my Mom meaning a lot of, most often referencing the contents of a large pot or bowl.  Example: “Yeah, I picked up a gaboon of ice cream at Costco today.” (This was a tub of Darigold ice cream that was so big it had a handle).

Slightly modified ingredients 

Gaboon* of noodles

Noodle close up (See what I'm saying about the iPhone camera quality? These noodles could use this as their head shot for their audition with Barbizon!) 

Mmm, dinner (and lunch and dinner for the next week)

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