Monday, December 20, 2010

Ming Tsai Sesame Noodle Salad

We love Ming Tsai's new cookbook, Simply Ming One-Pot Meals. The Asian fusion recipes are delicious, easy, and healthy, and there are gorgeous pictures for every recipe.
As Ming says, recipes should serve as a jumping off point for your own creative meals - you shouldn't copy a recipe line for line because that's just sort of extremely boring, dontcha agree? (Maybe the real reason is that we're just too lazy to go out and fetch the exact ingredients and too cheap to let the ingredients in our fridge rot, but that doesn't sound like a very chivalrous reason, so we'll just pull the creativity excuse.)
We used soba noodles instead of egg noodles, and radishes, carrots, a soft-poached egg, nori, sesame seeds, shaved parmesan cheese, and blanched mung bean sprouts instead of romaine lettuce, chicken, cucumber, and red bell peppers, as Ming's recipe suggested. For the sauce, we used freshly ground Whole Foods peanut butter, toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, Shaoxing wine, sliced scallions, red chili sauce, soy sauce, some Chinkiang black rice vinegar, and maybe 1/2 cup of hot water to make the sauce runny enough to coat the noodles effectively. I think grated fresh ginger and miso would be good additions too!

These noodles were phenomenal - the peanut sesame sauce is a perfect balance of sweetness, saltiness, spiciness, tangy-ness, and umami, and clings wonderfully to the radishes, noodles, carrots, and bean sprouts. The one thing we would change is to include some meat! Maybe some chicken or bacon or beef or ground pork would be delicious.

Sesame Noodle Salad (serves 4)
8 ounces soba noodles
2 carrots, shredded with food processor
2 radishes, shredded with food processor
2 cups mung bean sprouts, blanched
freshly ground pepper
toasted sesame seeds
slow-poached egg
nori (dried seaweed)
shaved parmesan and gryuere cheese (optional)

Peanut Sesame Sauce
1 cup creamy freshly ground peanut butter
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup Chinese black rice vinegar
2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
1 cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts
1 Tbsp hot chili sauce (Lao Gan Ma brand is what we used)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1. Cook noodles as directed and divide among bowls or plates.
2. Mix sauce ingredients together, adjusting water level until it has the consistency of European style yogurt.
3. Assemble your own bowl or plate, adding veggies and sauce and tossing to coat. Garnish with sesame seeds, egg, nori, and cheese, as desired.

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