I happened on an America’s Test Kitchen video featuring the always cheerful Becky, who demonstrated how to make Chilled Soba Noodle Salad. The vegetables looked so good, and Becky made it look so easy, that I tried it myself last week. The recipe served me and my husband for two dinners, supplemented by corn on the cob and some dinner rolls. Pretty good, but it was a lot of trouble (for me, not for Becky) and probably not worth making again.
Here’s the thing, though. It involved my buying a bunch of ingredients I have never used before and may never use again. A package of soba noodles was fine; we used the whole eight-ounce bag. The leftover vegetables, including sugar snap peas, radishes, and scallions, will also soon disappear from our kitchen. A jar full of sesame seeds, however, will linger in my spice cabinet for some time. If I try, I’ll probably eventually use up the sesame oil. My ginger root will find its way into something.
Most problematic is/are the nor, or Japanese seaweed, which comes in a package of ten sheets. The soba salad recipe required one sheet. Doing the math, I’m left with nine sheets of nor. I am unsure how to store them, let alone use them. (Don’t bother to google this for me; I will do that myself eventually.)
Preparing even my one sheet of nor was problematic. You’re supposed to crisp the sheet over a gas flame. Because I have an electric range, I toasted it as well as I could in a non-stick frying pan. Inevitably, I forgot about it for a few minutes and burned part of it, which I cut away. I’m sure nor is extremely nutritious, but the taste was a little seaweedy-y, so I’m not dying to add it to something else.
I’m usually cautious about purchasing items useful for only one recipe, but Becky is so damn charming. And by the time I wrote down the ingredients, headed to the grocery store, enlisted two employees to scour the shelves for sesame seeds, and hunted down the nor and soba noodles myself, I was in too deep. Have you ever bought one-recipe items? Do you have an ancient bottle of black seed oil hanging out in your pantry? Do you throw such things away, or leave them on the shelf for the people who will eventually buy your house? Tell us what’s on your shelves!