Monday, July 14, 2008

My cold noodle fusion

When summer hits D.C. I always struggle to find good hot-weather options for cooking. Last summer it was salads, including one that I posted about on here involving apples and sesame seeds. This summer it's turning out to be some version of cold noodles, with a Japanese-Chinese fusiony flavor. The base is always pretty much the same, although last night I threw in some peanut butter and made them into peanut noodles. Since I am growing some herbs on our deck this year, they inevitably end up as a chiffonade garnish on top. Although I have made other noodle recipes of a similar type in the past, I started on this kick partially after being inspired by one of Heidi's posts on 101Cookbooks: Lazy day peanut noodle salad. Here's my take on it. Feel free to top with whatever combination of chopped veggies you have handy, either stir-fried or raw. M had the leftovers for lunch today, a combination of raw veggies with a stir-fry from lunch yesterday. I like to use the thin Chinese wheat noodles that I grew up with in lo mein, but any other thin, long noodle would work, including spaghetti or soba, which Heidi uses.

In individual bowls, mix the sauce ingredients until smooth (what I have listed here are amounts per serving):
approx. 1 tablespoon soy sauce
approx. 1 tablespoon mirin
approx. 1 teaspoon sesame oil
1-2 teaspoons rice vinegar
freshly grated ginger root, about 1 teaspoon
freshly cracked ground pepper
sesame seeds, to taste
a little shake of red pepper flakes

this is the base, and then optionally, you can add either:
a generous shake of oyster sauce
or, a heaping spoonful of peanut butter, crunchy or smooth (I used crunchy)

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to the boil and prepare the toppings. These are just some suggestions:

thinly sliced sweet red pepper
cubed cucumber
chopped green cabbage
thinly sliced raw bok choy leaves and chopped stalks

Fried tofu, if you have it.

thinly sliced green onion
fresh basil leaves, in chiffonade
finely chopped fresh parsley

And this is what makes it, for me:
yuzu (or other) togarashi (Japanese hot pepper), shaken over top of the whole bowl.

When water comes to a boil, add the noodles, approximately the equivalent of a bundle of incense for two people (a handful about an inch and a quarter across? I'm not very good at eyeballing lengths...I just figure, if you have more noodles-to-sauce than you'd like, just add more sauce ingredients after you've mixed the first time, and mix again!). When noodles are cooked, drain, then toss with sauce in individual bowls, top with veggies followed by garnishes followed by togarashi, grab some chopsticks, and enjoy. Makes great leftovers.

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