Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Summer Thing
In a desperate bid to get a submission in under the wire for the Carnival of the Recipes, I hereby offer my family recipe for a traditional Japanese dish that we call Summer Noodles. Summer noodles because they are served cold in the hot weather.
I'll start with the noodles themselves. The type of noodles we have always used is sold under the Japanese name of "Chuka Soba." I don't know what the Chinese name is. But the type is a sort of woven block much like the noodles in the el-cheapo ramen packages. But are decidedly not ramen noodles. I've seen woven blocks of noodles in my local supermarket that are sold as "Chinese noodles." (Oh! The genericity of it all!) I think they'll work as well.
Instructions? Boil for 2 minutes, separate with chopsticks, boil for 3 more minutes wash in cold water, drain, toss with a small amount oil (sesame is a good choice) to keep the noodles from sticking together.

So let's make the sauce:
2 C water
1 C soy sauce
1/3 C sugar (or 1/2 C honey)
1/2 C rice wine vinegar
1 Tb brown sesame oil
2 ts dry mustard (wet w/ water before adding)
1 Tb fresh grated ginger

Yep. That's a lot of sauce. You're going to need it once people start slurping up the noodles. Wear a shirt or blouse you don't mind getting speckled with dots of sauce. Or eat carefully. Either works.

But noodles are not just noodles. There's other fun stuff in the mix.
Side Dishes:
Ham - very thinly sliced and then cut into strips (maybe 1/2 inch wide)
Boiled cabbage - lightly boiled (blanched) & chilled before serving
Cucumber - peeled and sliced to a manageable size
Red Shredded Ginger ("beni shoga")
Tomato - cut to a size similar to the cucumber
Egg - mix well with a bit of water (using the blender is a good idea)
pour very thinly on a greased griddle - no need to turn
slice thinly - about the same size as the ham

Though calling these "side dishes" is a bit of a misnomer. All of these things go into the bowl with the noodles and a serious splash of the sauce. It slurpin' time!

Just as an aside, the egg mixture can be used to make tamago sushi (as long as you have the vinegared rice of course). Add some sugar to the egg mixture, pour out the mix a bit thicker (than the summer noodles recipe calls for) in a wide griddle so that it will cook through without browning. Fold up the egg like a Swiss roll and slice into the chunks that sit atop the sushi rice. You can strap it down with a little belt of nori seaweed if you want it to pass the NHTSA (National Highway Tasty Sushi Administration) crash test.


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