Sesame Noodles with Made-From-Scratch Chili Oil

Sesame Noodles with Chili Oil and Scallions

I procured some Sichuan peppercorns following our Chengdu travels two Septembers ago, but left them untouched in the cupboard until stumbling upon this recipe for Sesame Noodles with Chili Oil and Scallions in the June 2013 issue of Bon Appétit.

What made these noodles something to talk about was the chili oil made from scratch with fresh scallions, crushed red pepper flakes, and tongue-quivering peppercorns. Mixed with tahini, rice vinegar, and soy sauce, the chili oil packed enough heat to make us sweat and imparted the kind of nuanced flavor that kept our chopsticks coming back for more.

I prepared these noodles to accompany a Chinese Wood Ear Mushroom Salad, because man cannot survive on fungus alone. Sharing similar flavor profiles, the two dishes complemented each other and made for a perfectly satisfying vegetarian lunch. Note to self: add broccoli, eggplant, and tofu to the noodles next time around for a well-balanced, one-dish meal.

For the chili oil

  • 4 scallions, whites and greens separated, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan pepper, coarsely ground

For the noodles

  • 24 ounces Chinese wheat noodles (or spaghetti)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Sesame Noodles with Chili Oil and Scallions

Cook scallion whites, vegetable oil, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and pepper in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until oil is sizzling and scallions are golden brown, 12–15 minutes.

Sesame Noodles with Chili Oil and Scallions

Let chili oil cool in the saucepan or in a bowl.

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Chinese Wood Ear Mushroom Salad

Mu'er Maodou Shala (Wood Ear Mushroom Salad with Edamame)

The Astronomer and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary this past weekend. As is tradition around here, festivities included reliving our wedding banquet at Five Star Seafood Restaurant in San Gabriel (the food was as delicious as ever) and cooking up a little something inspired by old school anniversary gifts. Thus far in our marriage, The Astronomer has been gifted Paper, Cotton, Leather, and Fruit.

Since it is customary to bestow wood upon one’s beloved in recognition of the fifth anniversary, I prepared a Chinese wood ear mushroom salad with edamame (mu’er maodou shala) using a recipe from Issue #140 of Saveur magazine.

This vibrant salad brightens snappy wood ear mushrooms with chilies and vinegar. It works great as a cold appetizer or as a side dish, depending on what your spread calls for. Really though, it’s impossible to go wrong, because nothing says “I love you” like prepared reconstituted fungus. Trust me.

  • 1 ounce dried mushrooms, preferably wood ear
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen edamame
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 serrano chiles, stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

Mu'er Maodou Shala (Wood Ear Mushroom Salad with Edamame)

Place mushrooms in a bowl and pour over 8 cups boiling water; let sit until soft, about 45 minutes.

Mu'er Maodou Shala (Wood Ear Mushroom Salad with Edamame)

Drain mushrooms; tear into large bite-size pieces. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with edamame; set aside.

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{swoon} Blueberry Doughnut at M&M Donuts

The best damn #doughnut I've eaten this year: M&M Donuts' Blueberry Cake. Featured today on GastronomyBlog.com! #Anaheim #swoon

While making our way south on The 57 to San Diego last Friday night, the idea of stopping into Anaheim’s M&M Donuts for a taste of their famous blueberry doughnuts popped into my head. With a sleeping baby in the back seat and possible long lines to consider, decisions needed to be made quickly and assuredly. The promise of glossily glazed rings, purple speckled and piping hot, proved too enticing to resist.

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Veggie Grill – Pasadena

Veggie Grill - Pasadena

South Lake Avenue Appreciation Week wraps up today at VeggieGrill, a west coast chain serving meatless fare in a bright and airy fast-casual setting. My mom, who occasionally abstains from meat based on the Buddhist calendar, and I came in for a weekday lunch.

Veggie Grill - Pasadena

After placing our order at the front counter, we snagged a table and plopped down our number (and bums). I gathered a few condiments from near the drinks station just in case any additional seasoning was needed. Blandness is sadness.

Veggie Grill - Pasadena

The first dish to arrive at the table was the “Chill Out Wings” ($6.95), battered and deep-fried wheat gluten served with house-made ranch and roasted pepper sauce. Both Mom and I were big fans of the crisp-golden seitan rods. She dipped hers in ranch dressing, while the roasted red pepper sauce was more my speed.

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