Spicy Cold Noodles

Last summer when I was just visiting China and no idea I would ever actually live here, I took pictures and made notes of my favorite foods. Some dishes I just had to learn how to make on my own. That’s exactly how I felt about this noodle dish. It’s like a Chinese pasta salad. Cold, refreshing, and spicy all at the same time. It is easily one of my favorite dishes here and Jesse can’t get enough of it either.

Lucky for me I have some pretty great local Chinese friends. Almost exactly a year ago I posted about our friend Mandy teaching us to make dumplings, now she has taught me how to make these cold noodles. My 24×24 party was the first time I made them on my own.  I  have to admit, I was a little nervous making it on my own for a group of Chinese food experts, but this dish was the hit of the party and disappeared in the blink of an eye.



Spicy Cold Noodles 

Ingredients
~12 oz Chinese Noodles*
2 tbsp canola oil
1/3 cup cucumbers, cut into thin matchsticks
1/4 cup green onion, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, plus more for garnish
2 cloves garlic, very finely diced
2 Tbsp very finely chopped peanuts
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dark rice vinegar (white rice vinegar also works)
2-3 tsp chili oil **
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp white sugar

*Noodles can be found in the Asian aisle of your grocery store, may also be labeled Rice Noodles. Thin, spaghetti like, noodles are best, but thicker noodles, like in the photo, also work. My noodles came in a roll and I used 1/2 of the roll, which I guess to be about 12 oz.
**If you can find Lao Gan Ma brand in the Asian aisle or at an Asian grocery store, use that! Or look for a chili oil that has chilies in the oil. 


Directions
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the noodles and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally*.  While the noodles are cooking, prepare a cold water bath. When the noodles are cooked to al dente, drain and immediately place in the cold water bath. Let sit for 2 minutes then drain again and place in a large bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon of oil to prevent from sticking. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and peanuts and cook for just 30 seconds to 1 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant (you’re not trying to cook the garlic, you’re just trying to take a little of the edge off). Immediately remove from heat and add, along with the cucumber and green onion, to the noodles. Set aside.

In a small liquid measuring cup, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, chili oil, sesame oil, and sugar. If you like a lot of spice, add more chili sauce or a pinch of dry red pepper flakes. Pour over the noodles and toss to combine and evenly coat noodles. Can be served immediately or chilled in the fridge for 30 minutes.

 *These noodles cook much faster than Italian style noodles. Keep an eye on them so they don’t turn to mush!

As taught to me by my friend, Mandy

So You Grew a Garden…Now What? 1

** This post was imported as a part of my top 30 from my old blog – What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen**

For a month now I have been patiently waiting to find a ripe vegetable in my garden that is ready to pick. Finally, when I went to water the garden yesterday, I saw a cucumber through the big beautiful green leaves. When I went to pick it I was even more excited to find that there was another one just a few inches away! Every year I am always amazed at how quickly a vegetable will grow. One day you’ll see a little cucumber that’s a measly 2 inches and then the next day, BAM, it’s a full grown cucumber and that’s exactly what happened! We planted several different kinds of cucumbers and the 2 that were ready yesterday were an English style, so they were long and skinny. (We also planted a pickling variety so you can except a pickle recipe in the series!)

It really was perfect that a cucumber was the first vegetable that was ready because over the weekend I thought of a recipe idea and it has been on my mind ever since. This recipe would also be great with fresh garden tomatoes but mine are still all green, so I bought one from the store. Hopefully it will be my last store bought tomato of the summer!

So You Grew a Garden… Now What? – Recipe #1
Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Salad Ingredients

1 cucumber, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 tomato, cut into bite size pieces
1/4-1/2 small red onion, cut into 1 inch strips
2 tbsp crumbled feta cheese

Dressing ingredients

3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp dry oregano
salt and pepper to taste
juice of half of a lemon

Directions

Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing* over the chopped vegetables and feta cheese, refrigerate for several hours. I dressed the vegetables in a Tupperware so that I could occasionally give it a shake and redistribute the dressing.

* I recommend pouring just half of the dressing on at first and tossing with the vegetables. Then if it needs more you can add more. Depending on the size of your vegetables you may need all or less of the dressing.