Serious Eats: Recipes

Sack Lunch: A Luxurious and Deeply Aromatic Noodle Lunch

Nigel Slater’s luxurious and deeply aromatic noodle dish has been on my poorly-maintained “to-make” list since Amazon delivered my copy of Appetite four years ago. It was the title that won me over, I must admit, though the pictures are pretty convincing, too: fat shrimp, tangled noodles, a beautiful green purée. One thing and another (lack of Cuisinart, fear of fish sauce) interfered, and I didn’t get around to making it until last weekend. And then—it was too spicy for me to enjoy. I suffered through it with a glass of milk and hoped it would mellow overnight.

It did. The cold leftovers with fresh mint and a squeeze of lime juice made a very nice lunch. I had worried that the noodles might get mushy, but they were pleasantly chewy and still tasted great. Some people don’t like the idea of carrying soup to work, but it makes such a perfect lunch that it’s really worth your time to find some sort of vessel that will hold soup without exploding or leaking in your bag. (I carry soup in Tupperware wrapped in a plastic bag and then take care to keep it upright, which is too much of a commitment for some commuters, I know.) I’ll definitely be making this again, with a few adjustments so that I can enjoy it the first time around as much as I do the second day.

Slater calls for "4 or 5 small, very hot red peppers." I didn’t see anything like this at the grocery store, so I decided to try three habaneros. Mistake! I think he is talking about something more like Thai peppers. Next time I will dial down the heat, one way or another. I used a carton of chicken stock and tried to gussy it up by simmering 30 minutes with some carrots, onions, and celery, but the results did not impress me. Next time I’ll use homemade broth. Finally, I used frozen, peeled, deveined shrimp because they were the only wild-caught specimens available and I wanted to see how they cooked up. They were okay but not as flavorful as I would have liked. Next time I will seek out better shrimp or try peel-on shrimp even though he calls for peeled.

About the author: Robin Bellinger recently escaped a career in book publishing, which was cutting into her cooking time. Now she's a freelance editor and can bake bread on Tuesday afternoon if she feels like it. She lives in Midtown Manhattan with her husband and blogs about cooking and crafting at home*economics.

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