I thought sesame noodles would be a great lunch for my friend and her daughter.
Ever since they cat-sat for us last summer, the young lady has been eager for us to leave town again so she could play with the kitties. Spring break was a good time to invite them for a visit. Gracie, Mikey, and Sula were happy to wake up for the special attention, petting, and playing with strings.
When Little Tess was little, much younger than my friend’s daughter, she often visited the next-door neighbor’s three children, and was frequently invited to stay for lunch or dinner. One day, the neighbor made macaroni and cheese with hot dogs. As she filled the plates, she asked Little Tess if the serving was right. “Oh, B. it is just right. My mom doesn’t have any children so she doesn’t know what kids like!” said my daughter.
So, Tess may have scared her young guest: I was careful to decrease the amount of toban jiang in the sauce. Really, the sauce was not any spicier than barbeque potato chips or sausage on pizza! To make matters worse, I mixed the sauce with the noodles to make serving simpler. That was the first evidence that I don’t know what kids like.
The second mistake was to answer her question about what the pink stuff was. I said it’s a sort of Japanese fish sausage. You can imagine how well that went over. I could have said it is kamaboko, like crab stix. Or maybe that wouldn’t have helped? At any rate she didn’t taste it.
I set the table with chopsticks (and the cute kitty chopstick rests), and I did provide forks. I’ve been using chopsticks since I was a little kit (my mother serving LaChoy Chop Suey managed to find chopsticks in the UP!). But I do at least understand that many folks find them intimidating. I think (???) that didn’t go over so badly… sort of a fun little lesson?
Well, next time they visit, I’ll be sure to ask my friend what would be good for lunch. It will be an opportunity to redeem my failure as a hostess.
Chilled Chukasoba with Spicy Sesame Sauce
Hiyashi Chukasoba Mushidori to Gomadare
very much adapted from: The Japanese Kitchen
•250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit•
by Hiroko Shimbo
Toppings – The Protein:
- ½ pink and white kamaboko
- ½ square hanpen
- 9 large shrimp
Cut the kamaboko into 6 to 9 slices.
Cut the hanpen into 8 small triangles. Poach in plain water until puffy.
Poach the shrimp, remove shells, tails, and sand veins.
Arrange attractively on a serving plate—some parsley sets off the pink, white and orange colors nicely. Cover and chill.
Toppings – Vegetables:
- 2 Tablespoons white sesame seeds
- 3 mini sweet red peppers
- ½ cup frozen green beans
- ½ cup simmered shiitake
Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan. Put them into a small serving dish.
Stir-fry the sliced red pepper in a little sesame oil.
Blanch the green beans, stir-fry, and sprinkle with a teaspoon or rice vinegar.
Thaw the simmered mushrooms and place in a small serving dish. (click the picture of the shiitake for a recipe: they freeze well and are great to add to all kinds of noodle dishes and stir-fries.)
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons toban jiang (chile-bean sauce)
Note: I only added ½ teaspoon of the chili bean paste.
In a skillet, heat the sesame oil then add the toban jiang. Cook until fragrant, 20 to 30 seconds. Transfer to a mini-food processor. (or you can mix by hand with a bowl and whisk)
- ¼ cup sesame paste, preferably Japanese (be generous)
- ¼ cup hot brewed plain black tea
- 2 Tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 Tablespoon komezu (rice vinegar)
- 3 Tablespoons chopped scallion, white part only
(use the green part to garnish)
Add the sesame paste to the food-processor, and blend until smooth. Add the hot tea, 1 Tablespoon at a time, stirring or blending until smooth. Add the soy sauce, sugar, rice wine vinegar and green onions and mix until smooth. Reserve.
- 2 bundles somen noodles
- a large pot of boiling water
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
Cook the noodles according to package directions. Test for doneness by removing one noodle and biting it. Drain in a colander, and rinse the noodles under cold running water. Drain well again. Toss with sesame oil. Chill.
If the noodles have been in the fridge, you may need to rinse and drain them again so they are not stuck together. Toss with the sauce. (or maybe better not). Arrange the sesame seeds, vegetables, and seafood on a tray. Provide bowls and eating utensils. Allow guests to serve themselves.
Click on the above pictures to view my previous posts about Japanese sesame noodles.