Hart went to the store a week or so ago and came home with a couple of mangos. I love mango when it is ripe and these ones weren’t so I put them in the basket with some avocados and let them sit out for a couple days until they got soft then tossed them in the fridge…where they have been looking at me for a few days imploring me about their final fate. I hadn’t had any inspiration. Yet.
My adventure at the dog park today that was supposed to end with a trip to the store to figure out what I wanted to make for dinner while The Beasts napped in the Jeep instead ended with a dog that smelled like a dead fish necessitating an immediate bath so I texted Hart and told him dinner was going to be whatever protein he brought me, I’d fix the rest in post. Silver linings ~ Gizmo is all sorts of sparkly white after her bath and the smell of dead fish stayed on her and not in my Jeep.
When I don’t have any idea what I want to make but need/want to I take things out of the fridge and cupboards that look like they have potential and put them on the counter so I can look at them. Sounds weird, but some of my most interesting and delicious things have been born from the “what can I make out of the shit in front of me” game. When I got done with the game today I had mango, red bell pepper, half of a cucumber, celery, tomatoes, avocado, a bunch of herbs, garlic, onion, soba noodles, low mein noodles, bacon, broccoli and potatoes. There’s about 10 different side dishes in that list at least, but the mango was taunting me and the soba noodles caught my eye. Hot wasn’t where I wanted with the mango, but rice wine vinegar was. So I grabbed the stuff that matched that general idea – the red pepper, cucumber and celery – and put the rest back for consideration another day.
Soba noodles are a Japanese buckwheat noodle. They are served hot and cold in all sorts of ways in Japanese cuisine and here in the States. Soba noodles tend to be thinner than their thicker counterpart, udon, and have a slightly nuttier taste from the buckwheat flour than a traditional semolina pasta. They cook up much faster, but same rules as regular pasta – drop dried noodles in boiling water and cook 3-4 minutes depending on your end use. I think they maintain their texture better in a marinade than semolina pasta; the soba doesn’t absorb all the juice as quickly and get that weird gummy thing going on that means adding more dressing and it’s still weird but at least moist and tastes like an awesome vinaigrette. I used this kind…
The vegetable cuts for this salad are kind of important, at least in my mind they are but this is the stuff I worry about. The mango & cucumber are julienned, meant to twist up with the noodles, the red pepper very small diced so you get little pops of sweet mixed in and the celery sliced into very thin half moons so texturally it blends in without taking over. It balances every bite so you get all the delicious parts.
I keep up my stock of Asian supplies, including all the sauces and the noodles for this recipe, from The Strip. There are 2 really amazing Asian groceries, one on either end of Penn Ave – Lotus down by Wholeys and Wing Fat Hong up by the Vet Office between 22nd & 23rd. Both are awesome and where I get all of the Asian flavors I keep in my pantry. Prices & selection are excellent compared to the special ethnic section in the grocery store. The stores can be overwhelming because it is an Asian market where Asian people shop so the in store signage and even the actual stuff on the shelves reflects that, you aren’t going to find an isle dedicated to breakfast cereals, but you will find a tremendous selection of things that are easily recognizable for what you need at fair prices to build a great little cache of delicious.
Cold Sesame Mango Soba Noodles makes about 6 cups-ish
- 1 – 9.5oz package Soba Noodles (or something close)
- 1 whole Mango, peeled & julienned
- 1/2 medium Cucumber, de-seeded & julienned
- 1/4 Red Bell Pepper, very small dice
- 1 rib Celery, sliced very thinly into half moons
- 2 Tbsp Minced Fresh Parsley
- 4 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Ponzu Sauce (or Soy Sauce if no Ponzu)
- 3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- juice of a Lime
- 6 Tbsp Sesame Oil
- 3 Tbsp Sesame Seeds, toasted
Put a pot of salted water on the stove to boil & start doing your vegetable prep.
If you have never dealt with a mango before – use a paring knife to remove the top and bottom then peel the outside skin off. The pit of the mango doesn’t pop out, you kind of have to use the paring knife to cut the meat off the pit. You will feel resistance when you get close to the pit and will want to cut around it following the curve. It isn’t pretty, but there really isn’t a better way and it gets the job done. Cut each piece in half to create to evenly flat pieces then cut into a julienne.
To easily julienne the cucumber cut off the end so you have 2 flat end and stand it on the thicker one. Slice off the sides down to the seed core about 1/4″ thick. Discard the seeds and julienne the strips.
Brunoise, or really extra small dice the peppers and thinly slice the celery – thinly is important, too thick and the celery becomes far too assertive, we like our celery best when it is docile & complacent. Put it all in a bowl.
While all of that was going on the water should have boiled. Add the soba noodles, cook for 4 minutes, drain and run cold water over to chill down immediately. Put the noodles in the bowl and toss together to combine.
Mix together all of the dressing ingredients except the sesame seeds in a bowl. Heat a small saute pan over high heat, when hot add the sesame seeds and toss until toasted golden brown, add directly to the dressing and mix to combine. Toss the dressing with the noodles and mix it all up. Give it a taste and adjust the seasoning if you need to, I did not, for the record.
I used this as a side, but toss in some grilled chicken, salmon, shrimp, tofu, mushrooms, etc and it turns into a nice, light dinner. This one will be made again…as soon as I go get more soba noodles.
You may notice that in the first pic the sesame seeds are black, that is because I learned tonight I am out of regular ones and that is what I subbed, I really wish I would have had the regular ones, hence their presence in the recipe and not the black ones, they look cool but I missed the little pops of toasted sesame.