Lunch, Mains

Vegetable Sesame Pancake.

February 25, 2016

It is no secret that I miss New York. I left it at the perfect time for myself, with tears in my eyes and not a middle finger to the rearview mirror.  I’ve traveled to so many places, and it’s the only place outside of the town I grew up in that is so inextricably of my being and mentality, so quintessentially home to me. It’s a beautiful shitstorm of a town, but it’s the town that taught me to love a thing not despite its faults, but rather for its faults.  I love the grime that makes me nervous about rockin’ nice kicks, the subway rats just trying to live their best life off of our dollar slices, the slush puddles on every corner this time of year that usher forth your best ballerina leap, the way I can have a quick squabble with a stranger whose sidewalk flow is an embarrassment and be completely over it by the next block. Warts and all, that town has my heart under a bell jar.

But this is a blog about food so let’s talk about food. New York is about that grub life. They’ve got Michelin starred restaurants next to trendy boozy brunch joints with a street meat vendor on the sidewalk between.  They’ve got random basement places that allow anonymity to celebrities, and celebrity chef run places whose dishes unfailingly grace your Instagram feed at a grating frequency. There are neighborhood mainstays come burger destinations and empty shipyards come food truck paradises and wherever you move, the first thing to figure out about your neighborhood is where those mainstays are, whether they deliver past midnight because we don’t do dinner before 8, and which destinations are worth coaxing your friends to. I had four mainstays and a slew of destinations in my old neighborhood, but one will always stand out above all others, and its humble name is M Noodle.

M Noodle is a hole in the wall off of the Lorimer L stop that has served as a noodle soup mainstay for broke artists, then hipsters, and now yupsters. But soup is not my jam. We’re actually here to talk about their vegetable sesame pancake. The M Noodle vegetable sesame pancake is my favorite food. Of all time. Ever. And it stinks. To high heaven. I was embarrassed to walk past humans on the street as I darted home with my takeout, double bagged to no avail (remember how I mentioned loving things not despite, but for their faults?  This is the best possible example). But you should definitely still make it because I’m very anti-hyperbole and as such, do not say things like “love” or “favorite” or “best thing I ever ate” with reckless abandon. I mean that shit.

But enough with the lead-in.  It’s a griddle bread, shoabing, with scallions mixed into the dough and a toasted sesame seed crust, stuffed with pickled carrot and daikon. The savory warm bread is a perfect contrast to the crisp, cold, sweet and acidic pickled veggies, and with a bit of sriracha I become my most content self. This, coupled with their fried vegetable dumplings, was the cheap eat I went for at least once a week, along with every taxi ride home from La Guardia, and most boozy late nights on the town. This was the one thing that was hardest to let go of coming across the country, but I was coming to California to learn how to cook so I figured I could trial-and-error my way to it, and so trial and error I did.  It took me 2 years to discover the correct pickled vegetable recipe, and almost 3 years to figure out the bread, but here I am and far be it for me to keep that from you all.

With a bit of prep (you’ll want to pickle the vegetables two days to a week in advance), we can all be eating the stinky Brooklyn delicacy that brings me right back to my happiest years of reckless singledom in my chicest crumbling old apartment.






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