Question: The Times Food Section recently had a recipe requiring a package of tofu noodles. Can you tell me where they might be obtained?
Answer: We purchased the noodles at Mah Wah Supermarket, 758 New High St., Los Angeles, but they are available at many Asian markets.
Q: What are sweetbreads and how are they prepared?
A: "Sweetbreads are the thymus glands of young animals, which disappear when the animal matures, just as they do in humans," explain Sylvia Rosenthal and Fran Shenagel in "How Cooking Works" (Macmillan Publishing: 1981). "Veal sweetbreads are considered the best, and they are the most readily available. Sweetbreads are similar to brains except that they have a slightly nuttier taste; they are equally perishable and also interchangeable in recipes. Look for sweetbreads that are soft and plump, creamy white if they come from calves or lamb, and slightly gray if they come from young beef. The membrane in the young beef sweetbread is tougher than that of the veal.
"Sweetbreads are often spoken of as 'a pair.' In each animal there are two lobes, a heart sweetbread, which is the larger, and a throat sweetbread. This pair is also called a cluster. It weighs between 3/4 pound and 1 pounds. Sweetbreads that weigh under 3/4 pound are pieces only; they are less desirable than a whole pair.
"Preparation. Soak the sweetbreads in cold water for at least an hour or longer, changing the water a few times until all signs of blood are gone. If the sweetbreads were frozen, immerse them still frozen in the water and lengthen the soaking time. The soaking bleaches them and creates an attractive appearance.
"The next step is balancing. Place them in a stainless steel or enamel pot (not aluminum) with cold water and lemon juice and bring them very slowly to a boil. If you bring them to the boil too quickly, the outside supporting membranes could burst from the sudden swelling of the tissues. As soon as the boiling point is reached, reduce the heat and let them poach for three to four minutes, if you intend to braise them, and for 10 minutes if they are to be sliced and sauteed.
"Drain the sweetbreads and rinse them thoroughly under cold running water to stop the cooking. With a sharp knife, remove sinews, blood vessels, connective tissue and outer skin. Do not remove the delicate inner membranes that hold the sweetbreads together or they will fall apart. Pat dry. Some cooks weight the sweetbreads between two plates to firm them before cooking, but it is not necessary."
Q: Recently you gave us the fat and cholesterol content of turkey deli products. Now what about those chicken frankfurters?
A: We went back to "Agriculture Handbook No. 8-5," 1978 and found that 100 grams, or 3 1/2 ounces of chicken frankfurters contain 257 calories, 12.93 grams protein, 6.79 grams carbohydrate, 95 milligrams calcium, 2 milligrams iron, 1,370 milligrams sodium, 5.54 grams saturated fat, 8.48 grams monounsaturated fat, 404 grams polyunsaturated fat and 101 milligrams cholesterol.