This is a tale of three 'firsts' and it all started with bok choy.
Yes, it's true, I have never cooked with bok choy and, to be honest, if it hadn't shown up in our CSA basket this week I might never have cooked with it. The bok choy's arrival, the first of the 'firsts' sent me straight to Google to research what I should make with it.
I had the idea to make a noodle bowl because, strangely enough, I already had sesame oil, ginger and soy sauce on hand. I just needed a recipe because I wasn't about to trust my own instincts with ingredients I hardly ever use. Enter the Washington Post and the recipe for Udon Noodles and Baby Bok Choy.
The second of the 'firsts' was tahini-- a mysterious ingredient I have only read about in other blogs and had never used. I thought it was some complicated mixture of ingredients so super secret one has to have culinary super powers in order to cook with it. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed to discover it's just ground up sesame seeds and now I wish I had tried it earlier because I realize I've been missing out.
The third, and final, 'first' was using chow mein noodles only because I couldn't find any udon noodles, which was called for in the recipe. Although, I am wondering if these noodles are the same kind used in those little packages of raman noodles-- the ones with the little silver packet of flavoring that I lived off of when I was in college? If anyone knows, please share in the comments--
The recipe is pretty easy and the whole thing is quick to put together-- even if you're like me and the three main ingredients are ones you've never worked with.
First, cook the chow mein noodles according to package directions. Drain and then rinse. Toss with a tablespoon or so of sesame oil and set aside.
Get two bok choy heads ready by cutting off the bottoms and then seperating the stalks. Be sure to wash each one because there most likely will be grit-- no one wants a noodle bowl with a little grit mixed in! Cut the stems and leaves into bite-sized pieces.
In a small bowl mix 1/2 cup of tahini with 1/4 chicken stock, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and the juice from half a lemon. Whisk it all together and then set it aside. I ended up using only half the sauce, but depending on how saucy you like your noodles you may want to use all of it.
In a large pan, toast two tablespoons of sesame seeds until the are golden and are fragrant. Set aside and then heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in the same pan over medium heat. Once hot add the bok choy, 2 chopped scallions, and a teaspoon of finely minced ginger root. Cook, stirring frequently, until the bok choy starts to wilt about 3-4 minutes. Don't over cook because you still want the stalk pieces to have some crunch. Add in the noodles and the tahini sauce tossing to combine. Add in another tablespoon of sesame oil and season with salt, to taste. Allow it to heat through a minute or two before removing from the heat.
So, the tale of three 'firsts' has a happy ending-- I mean, what is there to really fear when you have access to amazing blogs and Google to help guide you when faced with unfamiliar ingredients? After this experience, I feel there's really no reason to fear the unknown in the kitchen.