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.
Vegetable Sesame Pancake
For the Pickled Veg:
- 4large carrots
- 2Medium sized daikon radish
- 1 1/2teaspoons Salt
- 1 1/2cups organic cane sugar
- 1 1/2cups White vinegar
For the Shaobing:
- 2cups AP flour
- 1pinch of salt
- 2/3cup + 3T lukewarm h20 (think: bathwater, but the bathwater right when you get in and don’t want it too hot to stand but also look forward to cranking it up once you get acclimated)
- 1teaspoon sugar
- 2teaspoons yeast
For the Pickled Veg:
- Peel and slice your carrots and daikon into equal size sticks; I aim for about 1/3” width and 2” lengths but don't feel like you gotta break out the ruler. Keep it casual.
- In a large canning jar (the wider the mouth, the better), stuff as many sticks of carrot and daikon as you can fit. The tighter the better so long as the liquid can get in there.
- Combine the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small pot and bring to a boil, stirring occassionally.
- Pour the hot pickling liquid into your jar, being sure to cover the veg. entirely.
- Screw the cap on tightly (make sure you wipe down the rim, that sugar can make opening the jar back up a huge hassle) and place in the refrigerator for at least two days, up to one week.
For the Shoabing:
- Combine the water, yeast and sugar and let sit for 10 minutes while the yeast activates.
- Add the flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
- Once the yeast mixture has a layer of tiny bubbles on its surface, slowly drizzle the water into the flour, with the dough hook turning at the lowest speed, until combined. If the dough looks a bit dry or isn’t coming together, add a bit more water, 1tsp at a time until it comes together, it should be cleanly pulling away from the walls and look smooth in texture.
- Once combined, allow the dough hook to knead the dough for another 2-3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, lightly grease a large bowl and lightly dampen a clean dish towel.
- Once the dough is properly kneaded, pull it out and place it in the greased bowl, covering with the dampened dish towel and letting it sit in a draftless, warm place until it doubles in size – about an hour.
- While the dough rises, thinly slice the scallions.
- Once the dough has risen, sprinkle a clean work surface with a bit of flour and roll the dough out into a rectangle.
- Spread the scallions onto the surface of the dough and roll it up widthwise into a log.
- Now would be a good time to grease a sheet tray or plate that can fit all the balls on it.
- Slice the log into 6 pieces and stretch the top layer over the exposed sides so that the scallions won’t fall out. Work the dough segments into a ball like you might a large meatball and flatten them out a bit to a small sandwich sized round (like…slightly smaller than a Sunday morning hangover bagel).
- Let the bagel-ish-sized-sando-rounds rest for 10 minutes on the greased sheet tray
- Heat a skillet with a bit of oil over medium heat. Once preheated, place the dough in the skillet, as many as you can reasonably fit at a time, and turn the heat down to medium-low.
- Let them cook until golden brown (about 5 minutes each side). Everyones stovetop and pans are different so find the heat and time that works for you!
- Once the shoabing are golden brown and cooling off a bit, grab the pickled veg and sriracha from the fridge. Use your knife to cut out a pocket in the bread for the vegetables to be stuffed into.
- Stuff as many of those delicious sticks of veggie goodness in there as you can without the bun bursting (which is my standard move because I get excited).
- Plate and serve with a good squeeze of sriracha, and some sprigs of cilantro if you’re feeling extra sassy.