I have never been much of a pasta eater. For as filling as it is, I just don’t find it to be all that exciting in flavor. When dining at Italian restaurants, I usually go the cioppino or "fish del giorno" route. If I happen to find myself at an establishment that only serves pasta dishes, I’ll order the one that has the most "stuff" in the sauce, and then I’ll proceed to pick out every last portobello, pepper, and tomato that I can find. Come to think of it, next time I might as well just order a big bowl of sauce.
Of course there are always exceptions, and in my case, these tend to come in the form of Asian noodle dishes, especially cold ones eaten as leftovers. Consisting of bold ingredients such as soy sauce, roasted sesame oil, grated gingerroot, chili oil, and rice vinegar, the sauces in these recipes just seem to do a better job of seeping into the soba and udon noodles, as opposed to simply coating them. After chilling for several hours, the flavors blend and intensify, a result so delicious that it’s hard to not stand with the refrigerator door open, armed with a pair of chopsticks, and eat them straight from the container.
Because it has been so hot here these past few days, the last thing that I wanted to do was head out the grill and cook over a fire. This recipe was cool and light, and fairly healthy with the addition of crunchy raw carrots and peas. We had it for dinner last night, but I was oh so happy to have the leftovers "chillin" in the fridge for today’s lunch. Here are a few extra tips for this spicy side:
- This recipe can easily be turned into a main course. Top the noodles with roasted, shredded chicken, cooked shrimp, or thinly sliced grilled beef. Sauteed tofu would also be a good addition for a vegetarian entree.
- In my opinion, these noodles taste even better the day after they are prepared, when the flavors have really had a chance to blend.
- If you want to up the vegetable ante on this dish, try adding some julienned red or yellow bell peppers, snow peas, bean sprouts, baby corn, or sliced mushrooms.
- Whole wheat or regular spaghetti can be substituted for the soba noodles. Soba noodles are Asian buckwheat noodles, and they can usually be found in the Asian foods section of your grocery store. This is also where you will find the chili oil and rice vinegar.
Spicy Hunan Soba Noodles
Serves 6 to 8
10 ounces Asian soba noodles
1 1/2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon chili oil
2 teaspoons grated peeled gingerroot
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
3/4 cup julienned carrots
2 scallions, chopped
Cook the soba noodles in a pot of boiling water according to package directions; drain. Toss the noodle in a large bowl with the sesame oil until evenly coated. Whisk the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, chili oil, and gingerroot in a bowl. Pour the soy sauce mixture over the noodles and toss to coat. Chill, covered, for up to 24 hours.
About 2 hours prior to serving, add the peas, carrots, and scallions to the noodles and toss to mix. Chill and cover until ready to serve. Just prior to serving, sprinkle with chopped peanuts and cilantro and toss to mix.