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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

cold noodle in sesame sauce


Summer has officially arrived, though no one has told the weather-god where I live yet.  It doesn't matter though, I can easily put myself in a summer-y mood by making this bowl of simple cold sesame noodle.

Besides my intent to defy the weather, I was also inspired to do this by a discussion about Japanese cooking in a food forum I frequent.  A dressing someone used in a bowl of cooked greens reminded me of a cold sesame noodle I've had in Japan, so I conveniently copied the idea to make myself a bowl.

My fridge was rather sparse, so I only found carrots and cucumbers.  You are, of course, free to use any crunchy veggies you love.  A bit of spicy shiso leafs or cool celery would do quite nicely too, I think.  The idea is to cut them into match sticks to go with the shape of the noodles.  The sesame sauce I made up for this is a simple mix of sesame paste, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and ginger.  I also used a little Japanese sweet cooking wine, Mirin, in it, but if you don't have Mirin on hand you can easily add just a drop of mild honey to give it the sweet edge it needs.

The cold noodles combined with the nutty and gingery dressing, with the added crunch from the vegetables, make a perfect summer lunch you can whip up in just a few minutes. 

Cold sesame noodle
(serves 4 as a light lunch)

10oz or 275g Tomoshiraga Ramen noodle
1 cup carrots, cut into match sticks
1 cup cucumber,  cut into match sticks
1/4 cup sesame paste (tahini)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 teaspoons roasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 tablespoon water
about 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds (black would make a more striking presentation but white sesame seeds will do just fine.)

Optional vegetables (all cut into long strips or match sticks)
Shiso leafs

Cook Tomoshiraga ramen noodles according to the package instructions.  I usually cook for just 2 minutes, then give them a quick rinse and soak in ice water bath while I prepare the sauce.

In a large bowl, combine the sesame paste, soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, sesame oil, grated ginger, and water.  Whisk to combine well together.  Check the flavor, add more soy sauce, vinegar, or mirin, or anything else you think it needs.  Asian ingredients are not always standardized so you need to trust your own palate to get the precise flavor you want.

Divide the cold noodles between four bowls, pour about two tablespoons of sesame sauce on top of the noodles.  Toss the match stick vegetables together and divide them between the four bowls.  Spoon the rest of the sauce into each bowl equally.  Top with roasted sesame seeds.  Serve immediately.


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