Odessa wasn’t exactly the culinary mecca that New York City is, so the only knowledge of foreign cuisine I had as a child in Ukraine was that Americans ate hamburgers and roaches were a popular treat somewhere in Asia. When I was about six, an Armenian family moved in next door and we became quite friendly with them. My new friends’ mom, Rimma, was always cooking enigmatic, super fragrant, drool-inducing things in her kitchen, and from time to time, I got to taste what those things were. Her food, to me, was weird and exciting – I loved it.
This recipe is my mom’s adaptation of one of Rimma’s recipes, and one that has been a staple on our family table since my childhood. The only adaptation is that Rimma used to make a kefir and garlic sauce to accompany these noodles – we opt for good ol’ sour cream instead.
(Yield: 4 servings)
3 tbsp butter
About 3/4 lb dry angel hair pasta, broken in half (or vermicelli)
About 1 c boiling hot water
1/2-3/4 tsp garlic power
Salt + freshly grated black pepper
Procedure: Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add dry pasta and stir frequently to make sure each strand is coated in butter and toasted, for 4-5 min. Turn heat down to medium-low. While holding a lid over the skillet, pour in enough boiling water to cover the pasta (try to keep exposed skin and face away from the steam!) Once steam has subsided, add salt to taste, stir noodles and cover tightly with lid. In a few minutes, most of the water with absorb. Taste and add more salt/water, if necessary. Once all water is absorbed, season with garlic and black pepper. Turn heat off. Serve hot, topped with sour cream and more black pepper.