Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sesame Noodles as told to me by Vicki

I am a fan of most things sesame from the tiny tear shape flecks on the crust of a bun, through anything made with tahini to the sweet toasted version set in honey. I just love them. Reading a little about them I discover many things, most basically perhaps that they are the seeds from the sesame plant - not surprising I guess but when I started to think about writing this post I realised I had no idea where they came from.

More than any other ingredient in my kitchen they have been around since forever - they are probably the oldest known condiment. According to Assyrian legend the gods drank wine made from sesame seeds when they met to create the world - might explain the occasional flaw in the sytstem! Native to sub-saharan Africa, sesame were probably first domesticated in India and they are now popular the world over.

One reason perhaps for their ubiquity is that they have a fat content of about 50% to create a great sensation of pleasure whenever you eat them. This high fat content makes them a good source of oil which is exceptionally resistant to turning rancid. They are a very good source of manganese and copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, vitamin B1, zinc and dietary fiber.

In addition to these important nutrients, sesame seeds contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin. Both of these substances belong to a group of special beneficial fibers called lignans, and have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans, and to prevent high blood pressure and increase vitamin E supplies in animals. Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage. Good, no?
I shall continue to scoff them in all their forms, though not as a slimming aid!

The following recipe uses both whole toasted seeds and tahini in a melange that also encompasses chilli heat and the sweetness of honey and orange juice. It comes from my friend Vicki, who has been making these noodles for many years. A woman of great discernment and that is recommendation enough for me to try them. She suggests they are best with something robust - char grilled steaks perhaps. Because we had a weekend with hot sun just like a proper summer I made them to go with a cold dish of chicken with star anise - utterly fabulous.

8 oz/500g fresh egg noodles
2 tbspn toasted sesame seeds
3 tbspn chopped spring onions, white and green

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the noodles and let them return to the boil before draining them in a colander. Rinse briefly to stop them sticking together.

Put the chopped spring onions and toasted seeds into a bowl large enough to hold the noodles.
Dressing3 tbspn Rice vinegar
1 tbspn Sesame Paste
2 tbspn Peanut Butter
1 tbspn Honey
2 tbspn Soy Sauce
Combine the above well in a good sized screw topped jar. Then add

1 tpspn Chilli Oil
1/3 cup sesame oil
1 tbspn olive oil

Shake it all about so they don’t separate then add

Juice of 1/2 to 1 orange depending on how juicy. You want a consistency that will slide over the noodles easily.

Add the noodles to the spring onions and sesame seeds and mix through the dressing while the noodles are still warm so they soak in the liquid.

Refrigerate till about half an hour before you want to eat - best served at room temperature.

We ate them with the chicken and crisp green veg with no additional dressing for one of the nicest meals I've made in a while. Seriously recommended.

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