Sesame noodles (tahini style)

June 30, 2006 at 9:29 am (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Isa C. Moskowitz, Madhur Jaffrey, Pasta, Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing, Starches, Tofu)

I love the cold sesame noodles at China Palace in Pittsburgh. This isn’t quite the same, but it’s rich and salty and complex all the same.  Serve it with julienned raw veggies and crispy tofu.  Based on a recipe from Madhur Jeffrey’s World of the East.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, about 4 quarts of water.  Meanwhile, prepare the broccoli and sauce. Chop

  • two small heads of broccoli, stems sliced thinly and tops broken into small florets (about 1 lb 8 oz. broccoli in total–after trimming any woody stems–usually around 7 cups of florets and 2 cups of stems)

In a large serving bowl, mix together with a fork until you have a smooth paste:

  • 3/8 tsp kosher salt (if you have fine salt use only a 1/4 tsp.)
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbs neutral-tasting oil or peanut oil (use the spoon you’ll use for the tahini to measure this)
  • 1.5 tsp. toasted sesame oil (you can leave this out and instead drizzle it over the noodles)
  • 3 Tbs. tahini (using the spoon you used to measure the oil)
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. rice wine vinegar

When the water comes to a boil, salt the water (add 2-3 tsp salt), then add the broccoli stems, the broccoli florets, and then:

  • 1/2 lb. soba noodles, udon noodles, spaghetti, or Chinese egg noodles

Actually, the order will depend on how long the noodles need to cook.  My soba noodles are very thin and only take about 3 or 4 minutes to cook, so I add the broccoli first.  I let the broccoli stems cook for 1 minute, the broccoli florets cook for another 2 minutes and then add the noodles.  However, if your noodles take more than five or six minutes to cook you’ll want to add the noodles first.  The broccoli should take a total of about 4 to 6 minutes to cook, including the time with the noodles. (The exact time will depend on exactly how large your broccoli pieces are.)

While the noodles cook, roast in a small skillet:

  • 2 Tbs. sesame seeds (white, hulled seeds crisp up and look prettier than beige, unhulled sesame seeds, but both taste good)

When the noodles and broccoli are cooked, drain them and if using soba or udon noodles rinse under cold running water to release the extra starch, then add the noodles to the bowl with the sauce.  Sprinkle on top:

  • 2 Tbs roasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

Serve immediately.

This dish has quite a lot of broccoli, and sauce too.  It’s oily and quite salty, and filling.  There’s a mild but noticeable heat from the cayenne. Derek loves this recipe, and asks for it at least once a week.  I enjoy it as well, although I prefer to make it into more of a salad by adding lots of  raw veggies (partly because the noodles as Derek prefers them are quite salty).  I usually julienne about 4 cups of raw vegetables.  I like cucumber, carrots, red and yellow bell pepper, radishes, jicama, bean sprouts, scallions, kohlrabi, etc.  I usually keep the raw veggies separate from the noodles and broccoli so that Derek and I can mix in our preferred proportion of raw veggies.  Last time I made this I served it with cucumbers that had been marinating in a sweet, vinegary dressing, and Derek really liked the combination, much more than plain julienned cucumbers.

I would say that this recipe makes 4 generous servings, which should be enough for dinner for four people, but people always seem to want seconds.  So realistically I would say that by itself this recipe serves three, and if you serve it with a lot of raw vegetables and some spicy, crispy tofu cubes then it serves four people for dinner.  Usually I just make this recipe for Derek and I, and we split the leftovers into two small lunches or I give it as a big lunch to Derek.  Leftovers from this recipe make a nice lunch the next day (hot or cold). I never have any difficulty getting rid of the leftovers!

This recipe is very heavy on the broccoli.  If you’re not a huge fan of broccoli, you can reduce the amount of broccoli to 16-20 ounces and replace the missing broccoli with more pasta.  Try it with 10-12 ounces of pasta maybe.  If you like, you can add even more broccoli–around 1 3/4 pounds.  If you do, however, Derek suggests adding more sauce as well.  He thinks that even with 1.5 pounds of broccoli and 1/2 pound of noodles the dish is slightly undersauced, especially if you add more raw veggies and some tofu on top.

Derek likes this recipe with any kind of noodle.  I do too, but I prefer this recipe with soba noodles, because the flavor is more intense.  However, their dark brown appearance and generally sticky texture yields a dish that is not so beautiful.  The soba noodles are substantially less sticky if you rinse them before adding the sauce, but still the recipe looks a bit like brown congealed slop.  This recipe when made with wheat noodles is much prettier, and would make a nice potluck dish, especially if garnished with a variety of colorful raw veggies.

The sauce is also tasty on cauliflower and other vegetables.  The sauce can be made ahead of time.  Just cover it.  It’s fine at room temperature overnight.

Rating: B+
Derek: A-

Nutritional stats with all the sesame oil and broccoli, and 8 ounces soba noodles.

Macronutrient breakdown:  33% fat, 52% carbs, 15% protein

Serving Size: 1/4 recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 420
Total Fat 16.9g
Saturated Fat 2.2g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 1178mg
Carbohydrate 60g
Dietary Fiber 5.6g
Sugars 4.5g
Protein 16.8g
Vitamin A 23% Vitamin C 256%
Calcium    16% Iron 22%

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Peaches and “Cream” Steel Cut Oats (B)

June 16, 2006 at 11:37 am (breakfast, B_minus (2.5 stars), Grains, Mom’s recipes, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk, Spring recipes, Summer recipes)

My mom made this for me when I went home for a visit this summer. What a delicious way to start the morning! It tastes like peaches and cream oatmeal. She also made a similar breakfast but with strawberries…. I preferred the peaches. Besides, peaches are more Austin-y. Outside Austin, in the Texas Hill Country, are thousands of peach trees. When I moved to Pittsburgh I was surprised to find peaches at the local farmer’s markets, but apparently there are quite a few peach orchards in Chambersburg, not far from Pittsburgh.

Serves 4.

1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups water
1/4 tsp. salt (about 3 large pinches)
4 peaches (or nectarines)
6 teaspoons of sugar (about 4 heaping spoonfuls)
1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk (sweetened is okay too, just use slightly less sugar)

Bring the oats, salt, and water to a boil, then turn down to a low simmer. After 5 minutes, cover (watch it at this point to make sure it doesn’t boil over). Cook for about 25 minutes. Watch carefully for the first five minutes to make sure it doesn’t go over. Stir occasionally. In the last five minutes add a Tbs. of water if it’s sticking.

Distribute the oats among four bowls, and add one chopped peach to each bowl, along with 2 Tbs. of soymilk and 1 heaping tsp. of sugar. Mix and serve hot.

Rating: B

My Notes

This is delicious, and deserves a better rating, except the instructions for cooking the oatmeal are still not quite right. Also, I’d like to try it with no added sugar and see what I think, since it’s a little high on sugar for breakfast.

For those of you who complain I don’t have time to make oatmeal in the morning, make 4 servings on the weekend. Steel cut oats, unlike rolled oats, reheat well in the microwave.

Calories 242
Total Fat 3.6g
Saturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 170mg
Carbohydrate 45.6g
Dietary Fiber 9.7g
Sugars 16.9g
Protein 7.8g
Vitamin A 9% Vitamin C 12%
Calcium 8% Iron 11%

Percent of calories from: Fat 13%, Protein 13%, Carbs 74%. For me, this is a bit low on fat and protein to be a long-lasting breakfast. Maybe I should add some flax seeds? The addition of 1 Tbs. flax seeds would make it: 23%, 13%, 64%. Maybe two pieces of Lightlife’s smoked tempeh strips? 17%, 17%, 66%. I tried a Tbs. of sliced almonds (21%, 13%, 66%) but wasn’t excited about the combination. Maybe if I had toasted them first, or cooked them with the oats… Any other ideas?

If you use strawberries, this is a nice recipe for late Spring or early summer, when there still might be a few mornings with a bit of a nip in the air. It’s a good recipe for the peak of summer if you use peaches instead.

Update Sept 30, 2009:

I came across this recipe for “quick” steel-cut oats.

  • 1 C steel-cut oats
  • 4 C liquid (water, soy milk, whatever ~ I use unsweetened almond milk)
  • dash salt (optional)
  • 1t vanilla extract (optional)
Combine all ingredients in the cooking pot (or a tupperware container) and soak in the fridge over night. Next day, stir, empty into a saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook about 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let the mixture cool, stirring occasionally. Portion out into 4 servings, eat what you want, and refrigerate the next.  Reheat the leftovers in the microwave the following morning.
My notes: I tried this using 1 cup milk, 1 cup soymilk, and 2 cups water. Indeed the oats did cook in only 5 minutes!  However, it took quite a long time for the oats to come to a boil, maybe 15 minutes?  So it was definitely faster, but not superfast.  The oatmeal came out just how I like it, however, and I didn’t burn it.  I’d use this method again.

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Asian Tofu Cakes (C)

June 5, 2006 at 8:08 pm (East and SE Asia, F (0 stars, inedible), Other, Tofu)

3This recipe was given to me by a friend, but was originally from Vegetarian Times, March 2002.

1 Tbs. sesame seeds
15oz. firm tofu, rinsed and drained
5 egg whites- Use flax seed replacer for 2 eggs
1/3 cup all-purpose, whole-wheat flour
1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
1 medium carrot, shredded
3 scallions (green part only), thinly sliced; reserve 1 tsp. for sauce
1/3 cup frozen peas
1 Tbs. soy sauce
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil, more if needed

3 Tbs. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil or chili oil
1/2 tsp. rice vinegar

1. In small skillet, toast sesame seeds until golden brown, stirring often, 1 minute. Transfer to small plate and set aside.

2. Pat tofu dry with paper towel and place in medium bowl. Mash tofu with fork until it resembles chopped eggs.

3. Mix in egg whites, flour, ginger, scallions, peas, soy sauce and salt and white pepper to taste, until well blended.

4. In large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons sesame oil. Add about 1/4 cup tofu mixture per cake to skillet, flattening with back of spoon to form small cakes. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.

5. Meanwhile, make Sauce: In small bowl, mix soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and reserved scallion.

6. To serve tofu cakes, sprinkle with sesame seeds and accompany with sesame-soy sauce on the side.

Serves 6


My note: rather than use 5 egg whites I used 1 egg white and 1 Tbs. flax seeds in 1/4 cup boiling water. The texture was quite thick and fluffy, and held together pretty well when cooking, which surprised me. The flavor was dominated by the ginger and scallions, and the sesame to a lesser extent, which wasn’t bad per se, but a waste of all those tofu calories I thought. I could just make a vegetable stir fry and get those flavors. The texture I found unappealing, sort of soft and squishy on the inside. So I put some of them back on the skillet again to try to firm them up some more, and they did get drier but I still didn’t really like the texture all that much. This was a lot more work than just scrambled tofu, without a lot more nutritional heft, and I actually like scrambled tofu more, so I don’t think I’ll make this again. I am going to try adding flax seeds and/or egg whites to my tofu quiche recipe however to make it hold together better, so I learned something at least.

I had leftover cakes with a little soy sauce, wrapped in lettuce leaves, which wasn’t bad, but again not filling enough or tasty enough to be worth the calories.

I used slightly less than 1/4 cup per cake, and made 18, for 6 servings of three cakes each.

Rating: C

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Simple Lentil Soup

June 5, 2006 at 7:08 am (Beans, Beans and greens, C (2 stars, okay, edible), Dark leafy greens, From a friend, Quick weeknight recipe, soup)

My friend Sara gave me this recipe for a very simple lentil soup.

Bring to a boil:
2 cups french lentils (I used whole red lentils)
1 head garlic, chopped

4-5 cups grated carrots
curry powder to taste (I used 2 tsp. homemade curry powder)
salt to taste (I used 1 tsp. salt)

Simmer until tender.

Sara adds: When I’m reheating for meals, I’ll add some kind of green like chard or spinach.

My notes: My 2 cups lentils made about 8 big bowls of soup, about 9-10 cups of lentils and broth. It cooked surprisngly quickly. I tasted it last night when I was starving and it’s simple tasting but it really hit the spot. This morning I quickly sauteed a small bunch of collards on high heat with a bit of water, then added the soup. It’s pretty plain, but tastes good. I know Derek would say it’s bland but it’s pretty fast and easy to make and very healthy (especially with the greens) so I might keep this recipe around and make it again just for myself. I could probably add chipotle powder to his and he’d like it 🙂

Rating: B-

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