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 Sauce (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.
Adapted from Takashi's Noodles
- Yield:serves 4
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:30 minutes
- 4 salmon fillets, about 4 ounces each
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 12 ounces dried somen noodles
- 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup diced daikon
- 1/4 cup diced cucumber
- 1 cup bottled ponzu Sauce (see "What Worked" above)
- Fresh cilantro, to garnish
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Season the salmon fillets on both sides with with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a grill or grill pan over high heat until smoking. Add the salmon fillets and cook until medium-rare, two to three minutes a side. Center of salmon should register 130° on an instant read thermometer. Remove the salmon when done and set aside.
Meanwhile, add the somen to the boiling water and cook according to the directions on the packaging. Drain the noodles in a colander, and then rinse under cold water. Drain again. Divide the noodles between four large bowls.
On top of each bowl of noodles add a quarter of the tomatoes, daikon, and cucumber. Set one fillet of salmon on top, and drizzle with 1/4 cup of the ponzu sauce. Garnish with cilantro leaves.