Fake-Out Cold Sesame Noodles
On Saturday night my father sent me a photo of my grandmother. This photo captured the essence of who she was as she stood in her element. Photographed standing over a table in the basement of our Brooklyn home, hair uncombed, glasses on, iron, scissors, clothes, and her sewing machine surrounding her - all I had to do was look at the photo and I could smell 1989. I've been thinking about childhood a lot. Teaching and being in a school daily brings back a flood of memories from my uncles, to mealtime, bouncing from house to house and visions of me sneaking food in the middle of the night.
Tonights meal evolved from that little bit of nostalgia for days long gone combined with my sheer laziness after a day at school when the original dinner plan was to meet old co-workers for Monday night diner.
No, my grandmother never made take-out sesame noodles - her version of cooking off menu was when she would ask my brother and I if we wanted "American food" and she'd say "ok, I make a frank-a-fruit and a beans and a Lipton soup." A frank-a-fruit were a bundle of Boars Head mini cocktail wieners she'd bake in the oven with canned beans in her giant Corelle oven safe corning ware. That was American. We never ordered take-out, on the rare occasion that we did go out we'd visit Danny Szechuan on Cross Bay Blvd and my grandfather would only order the orange beef.
Very rarely, but if ever, it was always on Friday's, my dad would come home from his late night trucking runs with Chinese food. Boneless spare ribs, egg foo young, shrimp and lobster sauce. If Uncle Louie had a say, cold sesame noodles would be involved. I would eat anything as a kid, no arguments, no questions asked. Sesame noodles, cold nonetheless, I couldn't wrap my little head around. I couldn't understand how Uncle Louie would come upstairs in his half undone tie and dress slacks - wearing his afterwork moodiness on his face - could crack open a Coke and eat cold pasta bathed in peanut butter. I was intrigued, a little grossed out and also always way too scared to ask for a taste.
I would sneak peanut butter on saltines in the middle of the night as I stood in our dark kitchen, no lights, I was a ninja and the apartment was tiny, and lights would cause an alarm from one of my two brothers who frequently woke in the middle of the night to pee. How did I know this? THEY ALWAYS WOKE ME UP BY THROWING ON THE LIGHTS. I was a light sleeper, no pun intended. BUT somehow the thought of smothering noodles in the stuff, in front of family and eating it, bothered me in ways I cannot describe right now. Clearly I didn't know what I was missing ...
Until I was 23, wasted in Harlem, desperate for food and knew I had a two hour train ride home to Brooklyn ahead of me. Enter Chinese take-out in Harlem. 2am. Cold sesame noodles screaming my name saying "TRY ME, I'M TASTY. THERE'S NOTHING MORE SATISFYING THAN ME."
Was it the alcohol? The thought of Uncle Louie's face and the way he slurped with such zeal and enjoyment that lead me to ordering cold sesame noodles that evening?
Tonight the late Spring heat and smell of warm concrete just washed with the water from a garden hose as I walked home from work that brought it all together. With no Chinese egg noodles in my pantry, I found a stray bag of shirataki noodles in the bottom drawer of my fridge. For the peanut sauce, an easy breezy reconstituted peanut powder concoction I put all over everything from meat to noodles/veggie noodles to a spoon. Cold sesame noodles made their way to my plate and then to my maw tonight, and the recipe for all is below but I've more thoughts on peanut butter powder so I'll be sharing an in depth post on this wonder ingredient.
Want to go down and dirty 2am meal and Uncle Louie zeal style in 5 minutes flat?
Then I suggest you get in the kitchen and get down with this easy eat in the late Spring heat.
Cold Sesame Noodles
1 bag drained and rinsed shirataki noodles OR 1-2 servings of Chinese egg noodles boiled and rinsed with cold water
3 T. peanut powder
1 T. water
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. soy sauce or aminos
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. maple syrup
Sesame seeds for garnish
Cook, drain and cold rinse noodles - put aside
In a small bowls whisk together all remaining ingredients
Toss and coat noodles in sauce, top with sesame seeds
Serve, slurp and smile