We’ve just returned from Japan full of noodles. The boys ate noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner and even took a ramen noodle cooking class.
And so I started getting sentimental about my noodle pillow past at The China Moon Café where I was the chef de cuisine … a very stylish Chinese restaurant before Chinese food was stylish, owned by Barbara Tropp, who was dubbed the Julia Child of the Chinese kitchen. BT, who has since passed away, was a dear friend and mentor. I still ask BT for advice on all flavors Asian.
The kitchen was in the basement at the bottom of a very steep and narrow staircase that BT painted bright red. One evening I was making noodle pillows downstairs while BT was having dinner with Jacques Pépin upstairs.
Like all esteemed guests at the China Moon, Jacques came down to the kitchen after dinner to complement us … BT would have it no other way. He loved the pillow he ate and was intrigued while watching me cook six pillows at a time on a range with a high flame. He had lots of questions and was then sent off with a few to munch on for a midnight snack. I finished the day on top of the world, knowing that one of my kitchen heroes enjoyed the food I cooked.
I still make pillows for special occasions because they’re simple and impressive. The boys love them because they’re crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. Pillows can be eaten alone as a snack, like Jacques did in his hotel, with a drizzle of soy sauce, or served instead of rice with a stir-fry.
To get the recipe and shopping list on your smartphone (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android device) or PC, click here.
1/2 pound Asian noodles, preferably soba or ramen, cooked and drained
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Kosher salt, to taste
1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallions
4 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
Soy sauce, to taste
Toss cooked noodles with the sesame oil, salt and scallions.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add noodles to the skillet and press them down with a spatula to flatten. Cook the noodles until golden brown on the bottom, about 5 to 7 minutes, adjusting the heat so they sizzle without scorching.
Lift the pillow with a spatula, drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil into the pan and brown the second side, about 5 to 7 minutes more.
Transfer the pillow onto a bed of paper towels to absorb oil. To serve, move the pillow to a serving plate, cut into wedges and drizzle with soy sauce.
Makes: 1 pillow or 4 wedges
Special Fork is a recipe website for your smartphone and PC that solves the daily dinnertime dilemma: what to cook now! Our bloggers blog Monday through Friday to give you cooking inspiration. Check out our recipe database for quick ideas that take no more than 30 minutes of prep time. Follow us on Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.