For a month or two now I have been searching for an Asian or Asian-y noodle dish that would make a nice lunch. A few candidates didn't pan out, and the one that did was a soup, which I know some people don't care to bother packing up for work. Finally, though, Deborah Madison came through with her refreshing salad of chilled mung bean noodles with dulse and crushed peanuts from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.
I'm afraid it looks as if this week is going to be rainy in New York, but for those of you with happier weather, this is just the thing to eat outside on a warm day: cool, full of bright flavors, satisfying without being heavy. I liked the generous dose of raw ginger, but people who find that kind of thing overwhelming might want to start with 1 teaspoon and work their way up. I also added a few dashes of soy sauce and would not have minded a little more spice; maybe I'll leave the jalapeño seeds in next time. This noodle salad keeps in the refrigerator for four or five days, in my experience, and travels quite well: last week I enjoyed it on an airplane while everyone else made do with a doll-sized bag of pretzels.
Mung bean noodles (which are apparently also called cellophane noodles; I have trouble keeping my Asian noodles straight) are long and very skinny and come tangled in nests. Instead of being boiled they just get a quick soak in hot water. Dulse is a dark red seaweed that you will find in a packet. I may have over-soaked mine, since it seemed to disappear into the noodles instead of packing the punch promised by Madison and the packet. Either way, eating seaweed is bound to make you feel super-healthy and virtuous; everyone should give it a shot.
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.
- About 2 1/2 ounces mung bean noodles
- 2 carrots, julienned
- 1 cucumber, seeded and julienned
- 4 scallions, including a little of the greens, thinly sliced diagonally
- 1/4 cup Japanese rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons roasted peanut oil (I used dark sesame oil)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
- 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely diced
- Several red dulse "leaves," soaked in water for 5 minutes
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
Cover the mung bean noodles with boiling water and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain and put them in a bowl with the carrots, cucumber, and scallions.
Whisk the vinegar, oil, sugar, and a pinch of salt together, then add the ginger and chile. Pour over the noodles and toss well.
Drain the dulse, coarsely chop, and add it to the noodles with the cilantro and most of the peanuts. Toss again and serve with the remaining peanuts sprinkled over the top.