Recipe: Spicy Sesame Noodles

This is a quick spicy noodle dish that is good hot or cold, and quite low in carbohydrates because of the use of the Konjaku based Shirataki noodles.

Sauce Ingredients:

  • Sichuan Pepper Chili Oil (either home made or a high quality commercial)
    • 2 tsp oil
    • 2 tsp solids
  • 1 TBSP Chinese Preserved Vegetable
  • 1 TBSP + 1 tsp Toasted Sesame Paste
  • 1 TBSP Chinkiang Vinegar
  • 1 TBSP + 1 tsp Chinese Light Soy Sauce
  • Pinch salt (or more to taste)

Other Ingredients:

  • 1 TBSP Cooking Oil
  • 16-20 oz ground meat
  • 3 packages of Angel Hair Shirataki (Konjaku) noodles (7-8oz each)


Combine all of the sauce ingredients into a small bowl, and mix well, setting aside.

Cut the packages of noodles into thirds, and rinse well in a colander or other strainer, and set aside to continue to drain.

Place a sauce pan large enough for all the ingredients over a medium-high heat, and add the oil. Add the ground meat to the hot oil, and stir fry until cooked through and crumbled.

Add the drained noodles to the meat, followed by the sauce mixture. You may want to use some of the noodles to help get the sauce out of the bowl.

Cook over medium-high heat until the liquid has cooked down, and when you move the noodles around the pan with the spoon you see at most a little oil on the cleared sections of the pan.

Remove from the heat and serve immediately, or refrigerate to eat later.

Ingredient Notes:

Sichuan Chili Oil: This high quality option is commercially available, or you can make your own (e.g. this recipe from All Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 Cuisines of China).

Chinese Preserved Vegetable: There are any number of options, I used this variety, which is available at specialty grocery markets or from Amazon.

Sesame Paste: Tahini won’t work. You need a toasted sesame paste , either commercially available (this is a superb option), or again, home made by grinding toasted sesame seeds.

Chinkiang Vinegar: I have not had the opportunity to try this one from Mala Market, but other varieties should be readily available at specialty grocery stores or from Amazon.

Chinese Light Soy Sauce: There is enough of a difference between Chinese and Japanese soy sauce that you should be sure to get a quality Chinese version. This bottle, again imported by The Mala Market is extraordinary, but you can also use Pearl River Bridge if you are looking for a cheaper alternative.

Shirataki Noodles: I use this brand, shipped from Amazon, as it is shelf stable and therefore doesn’t take up room in the refrigerator.


Stephen Toulouse (Stepto) passed away this morning.

We worked together in Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft back a dozen years or so ago, and lived (at the time) in the same small town.

Over the years, we changed jobs, and he moved away. But we still kept in touch, and we still saw each other at conferences.

It was 2016, the first day of DEF CON. My brother Joshua had gone in for routine surgery that morning.

As things were starting in Las Vegas, I got a phone call. Something had gone horribly wrong. Over the course of the day, the doctors attempted to save his life.

The thing is, DEF CON is big. There are tens of thousands of people, and more going on than anyone could possibly try to do or see. But Stepto sat with me at a cafe in Paris, while I waited to find out if the last desperate attempt would work.

It didn’t.

But that wasn’t something he could do anything about. What he could do, and did, was sit with me in the middle of what was literally the busiest week of the year in our field, and give me hope, and a friend to talk to.

The World is Not Fair

It will not ease the dying, nor comfort the bereaved. It does not tend to the sick. It will not lay low the tyrant, nor raise up the righteous.

The world does not care.

Those tasks are reserved for us.

Blue Rose

The following is extra-canonical setting information for my Blue Rose campaign. 

Origins of the Sovereign’s Finest

The roots of the Sovereign’s Finest are in the scouts set to watch along the Icebinder Mountains in the aftermath of the Kernish invasion, and the tradition of royal envoys sent out to negotiate or investigate on the Crown’s behalf. Established by Queen Alia, the two halves of the Finest weren’t truly merged until the reign of King Rikin.

As a result of King Valin’s corruption, more than half of the Finest along the northern borders had refused to follow the King’s Orders. In the aftermath of Valin’s fall, King Rikin expanded the mandate of the Finest beyond the border watch. With their fidelity to the ideals of Aldis proven, he expanded the role of the Finest into a mandate to look out for Aldis and her people, wherever that duty might take them. It was at this time that the term Envoy was applied to the Finest, although it has become common to refer to even the earliest members of the Finest as envoys.

The Making of an Envoy

With the increased responsibilities, the training and selection of the Finest become more rigorous. Originally composed of scouts, adepts, and warriors willing to serve along the border with Kern, the Envoys were now charged with broad ranging and often nuanced duties. What began as an informal request by the King to senior members of the Finest to send qualified candidates to the city of Aldis for consideration as envoys rapidly became custom, and eventually law.

Any member of the Finest may choose to sponsor candidates for membership. The next steps depend on the candidate; in the time of King Issik one candidate was sponsored in the morning, and inducted later that same day. Some candidates remain with their sponsors for years, training in the field, and only travel to Aldis when their sponsor believes that they are ready for induction. Others may be sent directly to the Hall of Envoys to study while their sponsor continues their duties. There are still stories told of the Rhy-horse Dellaran who chose to travel across Aldis looking for troubled adolescents in need of a challenge, and routinely would arrive at the Court to drop off a young student, and then head out again, leaving the rest of the training in the hands of the Director. Whatever the path taken for any candidate, by the time they are considered for induction they have a solid understanding of both the laws of the Kingdom of the Blue Rose, and of the cultures and subcultures that are part of it.

Candidates must have a sponsor at all times. Should their sponsor reject them, or otherwise be unable to continue, a candidate will be removed from consideration if no other Envoy is willing to step in as sponsor. Candidates are considered for induction when any Envoy is willing to put them forward, even if their sponsor disagrees. The final determination was originally made by the Sovereign, but towards the end of the reign of Queen Larai, that responsibility was passed to the Director. Queen Jaellin restored the original policy, and at this time Envoys are inducted after review by the Director and the Queen.

Thorns of the Rose

If the Sovereign’s Finest are the voice and hands of the Crown, the Thorns are the eyes and the ears. These agents of the Kingdom work in secret, reporting only to the Director of the Finest. Their identities are secret even from the Crown, and revealed only when absolutely necessary.

There is a small garden just outside the Hall of Envoys, with an empty mausoleum, and a simple marble altar in front of it. Whenever a Thorn returns to the Wheel, a single rose is placed on the altar. White when the agent died from natural causes, or in the line of duty. Red, if the agent was inadvertently slain by an agent of the Crown. It is said that the Director plants a rose bush in the name of each agent, and that each plant only flowers once before dying.