Thursday, August 5, 2010

Szechuan noodle salad with soba, avocado and cashews

This is the salad with a thousand faces, as you will see if you keep scrolling down.  It's another adaptation from the Rebar ModernFoodCookbook, with a few twists of my own.  The Rebar dressing is very sweet, and the first time I made it I was displeased with it for that reason.  My way, with the sweetness much reduced, is tastier (in my own opinion, obviously).

Here's what I did:

Szechuan noodle salad
Serves 3

1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp sunflower oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp cornstarch
juice of one lime
1 tbsp minced cilantro

Place all of the ingredients up to and including the brown sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat:

Mix the cornstarch with the water, and add the mixture to the pan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Stir in lime juice and minced cilantro and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables and other toppings.  The original recipe calls for hijiki seaweed, but since to my sorrow I can't stand the taste of it, I used:

sweet pepper
roasted cashews

I also didn't use noodles, but instead some broken fragments of spring roll wrappers that I had been saving for just such an occasion:

This turned out to be a stroke of genius!  I would crack up spring roll wrappers on purpose in the future for this.  They just needed to be soaked for a few minutes in cool water and drained.

So in the first image above, you see what I initially took a picture of for the blog--I'm leery of soy sauce based dressings because they can turn a salad from marvellous to muddy, so I left it on the side.  But, you know, I was wrong about the dressing in this case.  Here's what I actually ate.  Holeee, what a beautiful mess! 

I had some of the dressing left over and today, after eating an all-brown meal for lunch at a vegan restaurant that should know better--and after all who shouldn't know better? Just a little vegetable garnish would have made such a difference--I was craving colour, so I made the salad again.  I had used up all the rice paper scraps so I cooked soba noodles, varied the toppings very slightly, and voila:

Super-delicious and it came together in the time it took to cook the soba noodles.  I am just loving these noodle salads.

So that's one way to beat the heat. My cat Isabeau has discovered another, all by herself, the little cutie.  I don't give Isabeau enough credit for brains, but she's really found the perfect place to sleep out the summer in cool comfort.  She only really leaves the tub these days to eat, and of course when I need it myself...she's even trained me to turn the faucet on a little bit so she can drink out of the tap...


  1. You have taken salad to a whole new level I never knew existed before. But more importantly, your bathroom is so clean!

  2. Clever Isabeau!

    The Szechuan dressing looks spicy and delicious. Cool idea to use the broken spring roll wrappers; I bet they are really tasty as they soak up the dressing, and provide an interesting texture. Your salads look amazing-so colourful.

  3. Shenandoah, it's the full version of PhotoShop. If you learn how to use it right, it even cleans your house ;-)

    Thanks, Rose. No one was more surprised than I was about the spring roll wrappers...necessity really is the mother of invention. I guess it pays to clean out your cupboards once in a while.

  4. Sounds like Photoshop is worth the $$!

  5. What do you know, I saw these very same crumbled spring roll wrappers in the oriental market today in their own packets, called "rice flake." So the idea wasn't just mine!