And we're back. Back to Plenty, which is fast becoming my go-to cookbook for all things vegetarian. And this recipe is a fast, healthy, and easy one. I will be heading back to Illinois in a month. Illinois--or at least the rural part of Illinois from which I come--is, quite simply, the land of soybeans and corn. Growing up, we would spend the summer riding bikes, sometimes to retrieve something from the little downtown, other times for no reason at all. We lived on the outskirts of our town, and we, my brother and I (him on his BMX, me on my red banana-seat bike with tassels on the handles and a white wicker basket) would cut through the cornfields to get out of the little (and only) subdivision we lived in. I still remember that prickly smell of corn in the heat as we cut through the rows at top speed, digging deeper ruts into the mud, especially as we rounded the corner to avoid the barbed-wire fence. Every couple of years, the farmer would rotate the corn with soybeans, and I remember being flabbergasted by soybeans. Who ate them? We, of the rural Illinois town, certainly did not.
And during Scenic Drive, an annual tour of autumnal foliage throughout the county, we would bike up to the Court House. Bored while our mother sold pie or jam at the school bakesale table (lord knows she didn't actually cook either, but she was willing to help our with their sales), we would lock each other up in the Old Jail cells, a terrifying event in which my brother took much delight, given that there were no windows in the cells and metal rings with attached chains were cemented in the floors and were reputed to restrain the mentally unstable prisoners.
And of course, to get to all of these places, we had to tear through that mostly corn, sometimes soybean, field on our bikes and be home by dusk. No one wanted to be alone in a field after dark, especially if one happened to have an older brother who would jump out from the corn at you. Not that I did. Or especially if one didn't want to try to navigate that sharp turn in the dark. But bike we did, through that field, day in and day out for all of June, July, August, and sometimes September.
Nowadays, I return to Illinois only once a year; I hardly even go back to that little town, given that my mother and sister moved to the neighboring big(ger) city (at a whopping 32,000). This trip back to what was once home usually occurs during the summer, a move that induces much complaining about the heat. This little recipe, once cooled down, would be just fine to serve on one of those hot, humid summer evenings and would give us reason to eat those once mysterious soybeans, indeed.
One Year Ago: Mexican Wedding Cookies
Ottolenghi's Warm Glass Noodles and Edamame
Adapted from Plenty
7 oz glass (cellophane) noodles
For the sauce
2 tbsp grated galangal or fresh root ginger
Juice of 4 limes
3 tbsp olive oil or peanut oil
2 tbsp palm sugar or dark brown sugar
2 tsp tamarind paste or pulp
2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 tbsp sunflower oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 ½ cups shelled cooked edamame beans
3 spring onions, thinly sliced (including the green parts)
1 fresh birds eye chili, finely chopped (optional)
3 tbsp chopped cilantro, plus a few whole leaves to garnish
3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
4 tbsp roasted peanuts, crushed as a garnish (optional)
Salt to taste
1. For the noodles: Soak the noodles in a bowl of hot water for about 5 minutes, or until soft (don’t leave them in the water for too long or they will go soggy). Drain and leave to dry.
2. For the sauce: simply whisk together in a small bowl all of the sauce ingredients as above and set aside.
3. To finish: heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan or a wok and add the garlic. When it starts to turn golden, remove the pan from the heat and add the sauce and noodles. Gently stir together, then add most of the edamame beans and spring onions, chilies and cilantro.
4. Pile up on a large platter or in a shallow bowl and scatter over the remaining edamame beans and the sesame seeds. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve. You can also serve this dish at room temperature, adjusting the seasoning when it is cool.