Cold Sesame Noodles

This looked like a yummy offering to accompany grilled goodies (which we never have – no grill) during the summer (which we’re not experiencing – no heat). We gave it a whirl and were very pleased! I found it on the wonderful food blog Serious Eats and made a few adjustments. As tempting as it is, don’t eat it until it’s chilled for several hours, preferably overnight. The flavors need time to mingle and develop. By the way, this recipe is totally vegetarian – possibly vegan if you’re careful about your peanut butter. I don’t know – I’m not a big label reader.

5 tablespoons sesame seeds
5 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1/2 cup hot water
1 tablespoon salt
1 pound fresh Chinese egg noodles (see above)
8 scallions, sliced thin
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and sliced thin

Toast sesame seeds in a medium, dry skillet over medium heat until golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes. In a blender or food processor, combine sesame, soy sauce, peanut butter, vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic and Tabasco and pulse until ingredients begin to blend. While blender is on low, add hot water in a slow stream until dressing has consistency of heavy cream (you might not need all the water). Set dressing aside.

Cook noodles with salt according to package directions. After cooking, drain noodles and rinse with cold water until completely cooled. Shake water out of noodles thoroughly. In a large bowl, toss noodles, scallion, carrot and bell pepper with dressing until well distributed. Chill.

Karstadt Steak Bar

The Joint

Königstraße 14
90402 Nürnberg
Telefon 0911 – 213 0
Fax 0911 – 213 2120


We visited the Steak Bar (I think it’s actually called “Perfetto”) in the basement of the Karstadt store near the Lorenzkirche at the suggestion of a co-worker of mine. He wasn’t wrong. The €5,99/100g Argentinian Angus was the best beef I’ve ever had in Germany. It was odd having a great steak in the basement grocery section of a department store, but maybe that added to the experience.


Eating a steak in the subway station basement grocery of a swanky department store doesn’t sound that classy, does it? Well, surprise! It is a really nice environment. There is a small corner set up with several tables and lots of seating around the bar (accommodating about 40-50 diners at a time) and from most angles you can watch them throwing your chosen cut on to the grill. The butchers themselves come around and take orders and serve it up right, according to your wishes. My only gripe is that I asked for medium well and my meat was only just medium. But I didn’t send it back – it was my first real steak in about 5 years. I wasn’t about to waste another minute.

Nürnberg Day Trip

It’s so close (just about an hour away), and yet we’ve never visited it save for its airport and Christkindlmarkt. There’s a lot of history there: art, culture, politics, you name it. So yesterday we opted for a BayernTicket and spent the afternoon in downtown Nürnberg.

I’d been thinking about this for about a week since a co-worker recommended the Karstadt department store’s grocery for a nice cut of beef (there’ll be a separate post about that in the form of a review) and our free time happened to coincide with Spirit Asia (thanks for the tip Christina).

So we got there painlessly, exited the train station, walked about a block and found the festival. It seemed about 80% Thai food and 20% everything else, ranging from full-body massage to bonsai trees and gardening supplies. We settled on some overpriced Indian food that was fine — but no Ganesha, even allowing for the carny-food atmosphere.

Good thing admission was free.

After lunch we just started strolling around, crossing the Pegnitz, getting our Fußgängerzone on and some shopping at Karstadt (in addition to the steak dinner). Result: Nürnberg is a nice place. It’s got the old-world charm in its Altstadt but much more cosmopolitan than Regensburg. We had great luck with the weather and that helped a lot.

General Tso’s Chicken

A favorite of American and Canadian Chinese restaurants, General Tso’s chicken isn’t actually Chinese. But it is awfully tasty. I’ve been looking around for copycat recipes for a long time before actually attempting one. This one was the jumping off point for my crack at the dish. My version is below.

1/4 c white sugar
1/2 c soy sauce
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
1/4 c cornstarch
1/4 c white wine or sherry
2 c chicken or vegetable broth
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 in ginger, peeled and minced

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 egg, beaten
3 T soy sauce
1/4 c cornstarch
1/4-1/2 c oil for frying (1/2 inch deep in skillet)
1 small bunch (about 8) green onions, sliced
2-3 red Thai chilies, sliced (remove seeds to decrease heat)

To prepare sauce, put all ingredients into a large jar with a leakproof lid. BE CERTAIN to put the cornstarch somewhere in the middle, preferably between two layers of liquid. If you put it on the bottom or top of the ingredients, it won’t fully integrate and you’ll be choking down starch lumps. After all ingredients are in the jar, seal it and shake it until completely blended. Set aside.

Heat the oil to medium high. Combine the beaten egg with the soy sauce. Put the cornstarch in a large Ziploc. Dip the chicken pieces in the egg first, then drop several coated chicken pieces into the cornstarch bag and shake vigorously. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess cornstarch and fry until golden and crispy, turning once (this is horrifically messy – sorry). Set cooked chicken aside to drain on paper towels.

In another deep skillet, heat one tablespoon oil to medium high. Quickly stir-fry green onion and chili for 30 seconds to one minute – just until green onion starts to become tender. Shake sauce mixture again and add to onion and chili, stirring frequently until thickened. Lower heat and add chicken to sauce, stirring until chicken is well coated and heated through. Serve over rice with steamed broccoli.


You can use this recipe as a template for a Spicy Peanut sauce. When preparing the sauce jar, reduce the sugar to one tablespoon and the vinegar to 1.5 tablespoons, then add 1/3 cup of peanut butter. Instead of just shaking the jar, whisk the contents until there are no large lumps of peanut butter. Continue preparing as usual.

A detail to ponder

Hi, readers. Yes, I am actually posting something that isn’t about food.

I have a little question and I would love everyone’s opinion. In recent discussions, I have become increasingly aware that when I am talking about the country I’m from, I refer to it – without fail – as ‘the United States.’ I have ever since we got here – I remember clearly asking in my German class how to correctly decline ‘I come from the United States.’

How do you refer to my (and possibly – but not necessarily – your) home country when mentioning it in conversation? No right or wrong here – just my own curiosity.

Cold, Wet, Jazzy Sunday

Ham PieUnfortunately, the music today was also pretty terrible. You could tell the motivation just wasn’t there, because so many people weren’t there, because it was just so insistent with the rain. We’d intended to get brunch at Vitus, since a zippy-looking band was scheduled to play there, but when we got there, the sky had already opened up and everything inside was absolutely packed. So we mosied over to the Hotel Orphée instead. After a little bit of confusion with the waitress (we didn’t know they had a special Jazzfest Weekend menu and she didn’t know we’d been looking at the ordinary one), huddling together under a drippy awning outside we enjoyed a lovely couple of Milchkaffees and Quiche Lorraine — known to the likes of Po fondly as “ham pie.”

So, without further ado, today’s audio samplage:

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p7133727And just for good measure: here’s a couple of Döner spindles. I guess the one on the left is in the process of thawing.

p7133739Oh, and a THINGpad? (Click it and look closely.) I guess, for many around here, “sink,” “think,” “thing,” and “think” are all mutually indistinguishable.