Dinner Tonight: Takashi Yagihashi's Grilled Salmon and Chilled Somen with Ponzu Sauce


[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

One thing I love about noodles is their versatility, which is another way of saying: there's never a bad time to have them. Sometimes you just need to mix the other ingredients up to fit the occasion. While a deep and rich bowl of something like ramen soothes the soul on a blistery cold winter day, a bowl of chilled noodles sounds immediately appealing on a sweltering, sun-drenched one.

Takashi Yagihashi—chef of Chicago's Slurping Turtle and Takashi, and author of Takashi's Noodles—knows this. So he combines slippery strands of somen noodles with crunchy fresh vegetables and a citrusy ponzu sauce. You could find fresh yuzu juice and make your own ponzu, but luckily most Asian grocery stores should have a prepared version available ready to go, making this recipe a breeze to put together.

Why I Picked This Recipe: It was hot, and Yagihashi described this recipe as "perfect for summertime: cooling, crunchy, and fresh tasting." Actually, he was just talking about the combination of daikon and cucumber, but considering everything besides the salmon was cool, I looked forward to something refreshing to combat the hot weather.

What Worked: And that's exactly what this recipe does. Though they remained distinct, the noodles sucked up the unique citrus profile of the ponzu (which I was able to find at my local Asian market), while the tomatoes added an extra bit of acidity. The crunchy diced daikon and cucumber acted as a nice textural counterpoint to the slippery, smooth noodles.

What Didn't: The salmon doesn't get much love here, since it's just sprinkled with salt and pepper and tossed on the grill. I mean, it's still tasty, but a marinade might have brought the whole thing together. As it stands, just about any protein could be used here.

Suggested Tweaks: This recipe is all about not working too hard, so any tweaks should be shortcuts. Yagihashi claims that a good canned salmon could be used. Leftover roast chicken would probably also work.