Thursday, June 18, 2009

Szechuan Noodle Salad with Soba, Avocado and Cashews

…from Rebar's ModernFoodCookbook. I'm addicted to this stuff. Chilled noodle salad is one of those dishes it took me a long time to try, but once I did, I was hooked forever. The dressing is to die for—the recipe makes more than you need, but it stores well, and in fact it's even better after spending some time in the refrigerator. If you've got some dressing already made up, it's five minutes to dinner. I subbed out the honey with some homemade jalapeno syrup that was intended to be jalapeno jelly but didn't quite jell. No matter, it has its uses.

This recipe calls for hijiki seaweed. Seaweed is another one of those things. One of those things, I'm hoping, like coffee and cilantro, that almost no one likes the first time they try but that mysteriously grow on you so that you suddenly start to crave them. I'm so there with coffee, I'm there with cilantro, and I'm there with nori even (which isn't actually seaweed but algae).

I didn't have hijiki on hand, but I did have wakami, so that's what I used. Wakami is usually sold in dried form. Since I'm still hesitating on the hither bank of the seaweed Rubicon, I've had mine for a while, but it doesn't seem to age. It takes about five minutes to soak back to a truly amazing apparent freshness. Here's the before/after shot:

The soaking seaweed lets off a smell that is breath-stoppingly marine…the exact scent of…let's see, seaweed washed up on a beach? The actual taste, though, is quite mild, and its texture much less rubbery than you might expect.

But I still prefer nori…

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