With the weather getting warmer, cold noodles act as a satisfying bridge between the more substantial meals of winter and summer salads. I admit, they are not for everyone but I have always loved them and want to encourage everyone to get on board! Right now, we are starting to crave lighter dishes, with cold noodles being the perfect vehicle for crunchy vegetables and dressings, minus the stodge of most pasta salads. Let’s face it, after months of hearty food, it can take a herculanean effort of self control to get into salads again. For the recipes, click on the title links.
I’m a big fan of these ‘component salads’ – a bit like the Ikea stacker shelves, you can mix and match however you like and rely on a successful outcome. A few slippery noodles, the punch of kimchi and the contrasting textures of the tofu and cucumber, with a tangy soy dressing make for a delicious weeknight meal. I always like to put an egg on top, and the Japanese mayonnaise and chopped chives for a ‘professional’ finish. Toasted sesame seeds also do a brilliant job here.
For the noodles, I tend to favour soba noodles, which have a high volume of buckwheat flour and must be dunked immediately in cold water after cooking to set them, otherwise they will fall to bits. It’s really difficult to serve these noodles hot. The Korean vermicelli noodles are mostly made with sweet potato starch, which also reduces the heaviness that comes from wheat-based noodles. I love the chewy texture of the Korean vermicelli – for me, they are the king of cold noodles.
Refreshing Asian-style sauces are the go to here. Some, like the Korean style cold noodles, are served icy-cold and are best to quell the heat of summer, while the soba, ham and peanut noodles below are perfect served right now. I also make them with 100% buckwheat noodles, as a gluten free option (substituting the soy sauce for tamari). Vegetables sliced to mimic the texture of noodles can be added to this – crunchy red cabbage, spiralised courgette, red and green peppers and julienned carrots all blend seamlessly into everything else. My useful trick to get those who don’t like vegetables to eat more vegetables.