Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hey Jej! Here's your noodles!

Every time I make this, I forget to take a picture. I don't know how many times this year I've had this, but here's the recipe. I usually consume it so fast, there doesn't seem to be time for photos. This was the only  cold noodle salad in our house when I was a kid, and it took me many years to realize that there was a kinship between this stuff and those gooshy, pasty, bland, miracle whip-and-macaroni things that would turn up at potluck reunions. Setting aside my loathing for miracle whip, the important thing is to eat a noodle salad at the right phase of its lifespan. For this, that time is At Once.

Meat of choice- about half a cup. Ham matchsticks were the thing that usually went in it when I was a kid, but I have used cold chicken shreds of various flavors and it is pretty good with that. Another traditional variant is to use bits of marinated tofu.

Buckwheat udon or soba. I use the dry kind. Dad would never have used these- buckwheat being for "those countryside people" and "not even pigs eat". Plus, soba is japanese. He always stuck to plain white noodles, but I like the texture and color of soba better.

a cucumber or two, cut in matchsticks. Or some shredded napa cabbage. I use cucumbers because napa doesn't usually come in single person sizes.
green onion or chives, finely chopped- I don't remember if this is just me, or of dad put them in too.
minced cilantro- optional
toasted sesame seeds

a generous tablespoon of sesame paste, aka tahini. If you buy it at a chinese grocery though, it may just say "sesame paste".
the same amount each of peanut butter, sesame oil, & soy sauce. You can do without the peanut butter, if you want.
2-4 tablespoons rice vinegar, depending on how tart you want it. I like a lot.
hoisin sauce- maybe a teaspoon. Dad used a little char siu, but I like hoisin better.
dash of cayenne, optional

If you buy most brands of japanese noodles, they come in plastic packages of several bundles of noodles wrapped in paper bands. One bunch of noodles is usually good for 2 servings for me, unless I am famished. I can do some damage to a noodle salad. Boil the noodles in salted water until they are al dente, then drain and run a lot of cold water over them to rinse off the extra starch and keep them from getting  gummy.

Mix all the other ingredients thoroughly to make a dressing. If it's not sweet enough, add a little hoisin. If you want it a little saltier, add soysauce. It's all about how you like it. Toss in the noodles, and sprinkle a little extra cilantro and seeds on if you feel fancy.

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