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Best Cold Noodle Recipe? (and other non-salad summer options)

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It is superhot here in Boston and I've been craving cold sesame noodles. I don't eat salad, so my hot weather eating tends to be limited to cold sandwiches (which I also don't eat many varieties of) and cereal. I'd love to add at least one more food to this rotation, or it's going to be a long monotonous summer. So if anyone has a good recipe for cold noodles, I would much appreciate it. Something I can make in small amounts would be especially great, as there is only one of me and I don't have a big appetite when it's hot out.

I've tried making them before (I think, oddly enough, that I used a recipe from Joy of Cooking?!) and found them to be a bit disappointing and gloppy. Something lighter and spicier would be great. Carrots and cucumbers and scallions would be nice, and I may try adding poached chicken as well...

Any other suggestions for good hot-weather food would be appreciated. I don't like vinegar or mayonnaise, and that seems to rule out lots of good cool summer foods. I like cereal and all, but would prefer to eat it just once a day.


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  1. Try these cold peanut noodles from Nina Simonds. It's easy, people love it, and it has all your requirements; caroots, cukes, scallions, and you can add the poasched chicken. Cheers!

    Link: http://splendidtable.publicradio.org/...

    9 Replies
    1. re: galleygirl

      That recipe looks fantastic, just what I was looking for. I also was able to track down a Cook's Illustrated recipe that looks pretty similar, so between the two I should be able to create the perfect noodle recipe. Thanks so much!

      1. re: sprout

        I like this one, too....Couscous is technically teeny pasta... Super Easy! :)

        Cilantro Couscous Salad
        One-cup plain couscous
        One-cup broth or water (I love “Better Than Bouillon”)
        4 or 5 heaping tablespoons Cilantro Pesto
        1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn, defrosted
        1 1/2 cups fresh zucchini, in 1/2” or so cubes, steamed, or frozen edamame
        2 chopped scallions
        Salt and pepper

        Prepare the couscous according to package directions. Fluff well with a fork. Thoroughly mix the cilantro pesto into the still warm couscous, taste to make sure it’s cilantro-ey enough for you! Stir in the steamed vegetables and the chopped scallions. Add the scallions, saving a few for garnish. Salt and pepper to taste. May be served warm, chilled, or at room temperature.

        Link: http://www.bistrodraw.com

        1. re: galleygirl

          Ooh, that sounds so good. I'm horribly picky (working on it), so it's always exciting to find something I'd eat. I'm not a huge cilantro fan, but I have a nearly obscene love for arugula. Do you think this would work with arugula pesto?

          I will definitely be making this dish this summer. I even have a bag of frozen edamame in the freezer...

          1. re: sprout

            I'm sure it would work with arugula pesto, as well...Cilantro is nice this time of year, because it's a blood-cleansing herb, and makes you feel cooler..
            Try this one for an arugula pesto-tortellini salad, another of my favorites....


            • 1 pound cheese tortellini, cooked and drained
            • 1 pound large shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined
            • 11 oz. bag frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
            • 1 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
            • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
            • 4 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped (or halve grape or cherry tomatoes)
            • 1 6 oz. tub Arugula Pesto

            Place cooked tortellini in a large bowl and add shrimp, artichokes, onion slices, olives, and tomatoes. Toss gently with tub of Arugula Pesto. May be refrigerated before serving.

            Link: http://www.bistrodraw.com

          2. re: galleygirl

            just made this - still warm but will be room temp by party time. quite good. made my own cilantro pesto. not bad to do but was hoping to find some since i was in a hurry. only thing is i saw a recipe with red onion as an interesting counterpart and although i used what the recipe called for i had an especially powerful red onion so it's a bit overwhelming. tastes good but there'll be some bad breath after this party! LOL

          3. re: sprout

            Is that the Cook's Illustrated recipe for sesame noodles from about a year ago? If so, we eat it all the time in my house. I made it once for my teenagers (my oldest needed a dish to take to a potluck picnic in the park, on no notice at all, and that's what we had ingredients for in the house) and they loved it so much they now make it all the time. We add veggies, chicken, whatever we feel like, and vary the recipe a bit to suit our tastes. You can refrigerate the sauce and not use it all at once, since you aren't cooking for teenage boys (no matter how much is made in this house, it is wolfed down immediately).

            1. re: Anne H

              I think so. I've linked the recipe below. I'm glad to hear that you like it so much. I was thinking that I would try that recipe first since I have all the ingredients for it (except chicken, so I may need to make it chickenless until I can get to a store).

              Thanks for the info on the recipe. I can't wait to try it (hopefully tomorrow!).

              Link: http://www.nikchick.com/recipes/sesam...

          4. re: galleygirl

            I just bought the Nina Simmons book last week. The recipes in it will keep me busy all summer!

            1. re: Ellen

              Just don't do the pad thai; it's awful!
              The best part of the book is her appendices of all her basic sauce and dressing recipes; the one for fresh spring rolls is so good, you could eat it with a spoon!

              Link: http://www.bistrodraw.com

          5. I also copped an idea from Whole Foods, that my SO loved...It may technically be a salad (there is some uncooked fruit), I'm not sure; if so, my apologies...

            Sweet Potato Mango Salad

            1 huge sweet potato, steamed and cubed
            1 mango, cubed
            1/2 red bell pepper, slivered (optional)
            1 chopped scallion

            Mix juice of one lime, a squirt of EVOO(1/2 T.), and a 1/2 T. of maple syrup (or honey), chopped cilantro, 1/2 handful (I added some cilantro pesto to the dressing, because I was out), S&P to taste. Gently stir thru the potatoes and mango. Chill. Yum.

            Link: http://www.bistrodraw.com

            3 Replies
            1. re: galleygirl

              okay sorry to bring up an old thread but i am looking for a side for a picnic tomorrow - the sesame noodles, cilantro couscous salad and this one all look great. any votes? i may do too. if you think it might appeal to kids between 2-8 that'd be an extra plus but not necessary.
              oh and for this one - the reason i posted is how steamed do i want the sweet potatoes?

              oh and for the sesame noodles, do you think you could add other veggies such as cukes or broccoli or edamame with out messing it up instead of chicken?

              1. re: AMFM

                Cilantro Couscous gets my vote. It keeps well and you can add all kinds of chopped veg to it couscous and it is very forgiving. I find that it's sorta expensive here ($2.50 on sale for a tiny box) so I look for deals (plus ways to disguise it so husband will eat it)
                I would skip the corn, personally and do lots of small chunked veg- I've done tomatoes, cukes, scallions, etc.

                Cold sesame noodles with cucumber? Try it! It sounds different. I've not had luck with making up my own sauce though it's been a while since I tried. I remember it was way too peanut buttery when I tried to approximate it. Now it's so much easier-I can just look things up online.

                1. re: Boccone Dolce

                  i did both - and they were both awesome. i did the corn since i had silver queen and i thought the kids would eat it with that and edamame. but since they didn't anyway i might use different ones next time.
                  used the top recipe for noodles - quite good.

            2. Coincidentally, I made a soba noodle/chicken/veg. dish last night that sounds like just the thing. It came out really delicious. I served this hot (SF is always around 70 degrees - even in summer) but this noodle concoction would be great at room temp, or even cold as well.

              You'll need a big fry pan - nonstick would be good, and a medium pot. Bagged frozen, boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs and prebagged spincah will cut your work time. A wide variety of vegetables would work great as would steak or crumbled ground meat - beef or turkey, shrimp, or tofu. You just want to cut everything bite sized, and cut the fat off the chicken - a scissors makes it easier.

              So, cook your soba noodles and drain. Heat up about a tablespoon of oil in the fry pan and brown the chicken pieces. If you're using shrimp add everything at once. Add the veg. (I used red bell pep., carrot cut on the bias, onion, garlic, and spinach). Cover for only a few minutes to blanch the veg., then add a teaspoon of sesame oil, and about a tablespoon of soy sauce (tamari for this if you have it, and a half teaspoon of sugar. Scrape up the bits off the bottom of the pan, add the noodles and mix well. Of course, if you were want to use fresh tomato, scallions, cucumber - things like that, you don't need to cook them at all.

              This type of combo would be very tasty done with different noodles as well. You can get pre-cooked udon noodles the same places you'll find soba - they just need to be boil for about 2 minutes to soften them a bit. You could also use Chinese lo mein noodles, rice stick noodles, or Italian pastas. If you go Italian, just leave out the sugar and add some fresh grated parm. at the very end. Different veg. according to the ethnic slant on this dish will also make it better - like for Italian - use zuchini, red and green bell pep. and fresh basil leaves right at the end - maybe Italian turkey sausage (squeeze the meat out of the casings). For Chinese - sliced water chestnuts, baby corn, bok choy or napa cabbage, soaked dried mushrooms. Vietnamese - rice stick noodles, cilantro, basil, jalapenos, mung bean sprouts. You get the idea.

              1. Vietnamese bun (noodle) salads might fit your bill. You can adapt to your liking (heck, make it pan-asian and add sesame oil or seeds), but here's the basic gist: Marinade & grill some meat, slice & serve over any or all of the following:

                Rice vermicelli noodles, boiled for a couple minutes until soft & drained
                Thinly sliced veggies (lettuce, carrot, cucumber, scallions)
                Chopped herbs (mint, basil, cilantro)
                Chopped roasted peanuts
                Dress with nuoc cham (fish sauce-based dressing). Many recipes for this, one easy one is 1 part lime juice, 1 part sugar, 1 part fish sauce and 2-4 parts water.

                1. Thank you for this thread! It is indeed miserable here in Boston and I was just wondering what to make for dinner tonight. I have some leftover chicken, and will try one of these with some broccoli slaw mix from the grocery store.

                  1. Last night, I made a great brown rice salad. OK, it's a salad, but it's not leafy and green. And it was really, really tasty!

                    I don't have a recipe, and didn't measure the ingredients, but I cooked some brown basmati rice in my rice cooker (it's cooler than using the stove), then combined the warm rice with a dressing (below) and lots of shredded raw carrots, julienned snow peas (I lightly steamed them, but they could be raw), raw brocolli florets, and finely sliced green onions (mostly the white part). Other veggies would be great in this, too. At the end, I added the juice and flesh (finely chopped) of one small orange.

                    The dressing was canola oil, rice wine vinegar, fresh lime juice, soy sauce (I used sushi-style soy sauce, 'cause that's what I have in the cupboard, but standard soy sauce would be fine), black pepper, and a few drops of chili sesame oil. I kept adjusting the amounts until the dressing tasted good.

                    It was so yummy that the two of us ate a huge amount. Now there's barely enough left for lunch.


                    3 Replies
                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                      Oops. I just noticed that you don't like vinegar. In that case, I would leave out the rice wine vinegar, and just use more lime juice. In fact, I didn't think of the lime juice until I had added the vinegar, but the lime flavor was better.

                      Most salad dressings that contain vinegar could have lemon or lime juice instead. Often, that makes them taste even better!

                      For example, a classic Salade Nicoise has dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper (poured over steamed potatoes, green beans, hard-cooked eggs, greens, and a few other ingredients). Come to think of it, that's my other favorite hot-weather dish. If you don't like leafy salads, you could leave out the lettuce, and call it a potato-bean-egg salad.


                      1. re: AnneInMpls

                        I actually don't mind rice wine vinegar at all if it's mixed with other things. I do make my own salad dressings with lemon juice... very tasty that way!

                        I love Salade Nicoise; I'm so glad you mentioned that. I'm being reminded of lots of great dishes in this thread (i love chap chae and bun). Thanks to everyone for saving me from a summer of cereal and turkey sandwiches. :)

                        1. re: AnneInMpls

                          Salade nicoise is a great suggestion. I like to add Italian tuna canned in oil. I drain and reserve the oil and use it to dress the salad, along with lemon juice etc.

                      2. variation of the Korean Chap Chae recipe;
                        yam noodles
                        red/green peeper thinly sliced
                        onion thinly sliced
                        shredded carrot
                        chopped spinach
                        optional thin sliced beef strips
                        s&P to taste
                        sesame oil to taste

                        sautee all ingreds until just cooked through & beef is done while yam noodles are cooking, they dont take long.

                        Caution add sesame oil a bit at a time until desired taste.Also this wont keep long even in the fridge, just make enough to enjoy with limited leftovers

                        1. My Japanese friend used to make this dish in the summer. I don't have a recipe with me but found this link on the internet. It is very similar to what my friend made; however, she used boiled chicken breast or chicken tender instead of ham and use chinese egg noodles instead of ramen. It's my favorite summer noodle dish. Hope you like it!

                          Link: http://www.canadianliving.com/canadia...

                          1. I like plan and simple japanese zaru soba. You can buy the soup base (kikkoman memmi sauce). Mix 1 part soup base to 4 parts water. chill. boil, drain and chill noodles. serve with thinly sliced green onion, grated radish and a dab of wasabi. dip noodles in sauce and enjoy!

                            1. I'm a big fan of gado-gado - albeit I make a highly bastardized version. Basically, prepare crudités (I like adding some kind of tropical fruit, like mango), a hard-boiled egg, and serve with peanut sauce.

                              1. Bibim guksu is awesome during hot days, very crisp and refreshing. There's also a recipe for bibim naeng myun on the same site. Best with lots of shredded lettuce and cucumber.

                                This is a pretty good recipe: http://mykoreankitchen.com/2007/05/29...

                                1. I really like this pasta salad recipe. It's super versatile and it lasts in the fridge for a week.


                                  1. The best Dan Dan noodles ever! I've made these a number of times.


                                    Myers + Chang in Boston has great modern, fresh Asian food. We eat her at least once a week.

                                    1. Dan-dan noodles and zaru-soba - take it from those cultures that eat lots of noodles AND have some of the most horrendously hot and humid summers/climates to deal with...

                                      1. made essentially the first sesame noodle recipe without chicken and the cilantro couscous and both got great reviews at the cookout. thanks all.

                                        1. my chinese/taiwanese mother's recipe for cold sesame noodles is fabulous. it includes pork though another type of ground meat would work, but you do need to add oil to make it sufficiently saucy.

                                          1/2 ground pork (not lean)
                                          1 tin sweet black bean paste (it's in a tin from asian markets)
                                          1 bunch scallions, chopped
                                          4-5 tbsp sesame paste (or tahini)
                                          1 or 2 english cucumbers, seeded.
                                          pack noodles (any are fine, really. nothing overtly western i think. no tagliatelle, for eg).
                                          sesame oil
                                          canola oil
                                          optional: egg, carrot

                                          this is a sort of salad compose. i usually place the different components out and let people help themselves.

                                          1) cook noodles. rinse with cold water. can add ice cubes to further cool. add a bunch of sesame oil to keep it from sticking and for flavor.
                                          2) heat up canola oil in a big pot or wok. when it's hot, add scallions. as soon as it's fragrant, add pork. saute till very close to done. add the tin of sweet black bean paste and stir. add about a tin full of water. take the sauce off the heat.
                                          3) take a big spoonful of sesame paste and add a dribble of water. stir it around till it becomes lighter and more sauce like. keep adding sesame paste and water. should be fairly watery. can add some rice vinegar and mirin to this.
                                          4) grate or julienne the cucumbers.
                                          5) optional, if using the eggs, make very thin omelettes over hot oil and slice into thin strips. if using carrots, use julienned carrots soaked for over an hour in white vinegar and sugar solution. also, the meat sauce has probably cooled a bit now, and you'll see a layer of oil. this oil was necessary during the cooking to make sure the ground meat broke down and cooked evenly, but now you can skim some of it off to make it moderately more healthy and appealing.

                                          lay out all the components and then let everyone assemble their own cold sesame noodles.

                                          1. I bet you'd like hiyashi chukasoba! It's versatile, and while there is usually vinegar in the sauce/broth, you can leave it out if you don't like the flavor. It's cold ramen style noodles with a flavorful broth based sauce and any number of toppings, usually including thin sliced omelet, cucumber, bean sprouts and others you chose. I've seen it with parboiled corn kernels, shredded chicken or sliced ham or simmered pork shoulder slices, cherry tomatoes in halves or quarters, bell pepper strips, asparagus, wakame, shredded lettuce, sliced scallions, sliced pickled ginger, etc. Some people like to mix in mustard. I like it topped with ground toasted sesame seeds.

                                            To make the sauce, simmer a tablespoon of sugar in a quarter cup of mirin until dissolved. (You may want to leave out the sugar, since it won't be balanced by the vinegar, but I'll leave that up to you. Mirin has some sweetness already.) Add pork or chicken stock or dashi, about ten ounces and a generous quarter cup of shoyu and let that come bac to a simmer, then immediately pour into a jar. Before refrigerating, add a teaspoon or two of ginger juice, a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil, (and two tablespoons of rice vinegar if using) then taste. Add more ginger or shoyu if you like. This is enough sauce for 4, and will keep in the fridge for a week. It should be cold before serving.

                                            Whisk one egg per person with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of sugar, just enough to blend. (You don't want to incorporate a lot of air, as it'll make it harder to cook thinly.) Heat an omelette pan and film with oil. When hot, pour in one half of the egg, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Tilt the pan to distribute the egg. When it's opaque, use a thin spatula to flip it onto the other side briefly. Turn out onto a cutting board and repeat until you've used all the egg. Roll the omelettes up tightly and slice thinly crosswise to make thin strips. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the bowls.

                                            Prepare the rest of the toppings as you like, varying the texture but making everything bite size strips or whatever is easy to eat. Parboil any vegetables if you prefer, or cook briefly in sesame oil, but have them at room temperature or refrigerate or place in an ice water bath. Cook the chukasoba noodles according to package directions and rinse in cold water, massaging them to remove excess starch. Distribute into bowls and arrange the toppings over the noodles, then pour over a portion of the sauce. Sprinkle with toasted sesame oil and/or sesame seeds. You can also sprinkle with kizami nori or ao nori.

                                            1. how about mul naengmyun? It combines cold noodles with ice cold broth.

                                              Ice cold beef broth with arrowroot starch noodles, slivers of daikon radish and/or asian pears, cucumbers, and a squirt of chinese style mustard.

                                              1. Thai style Peanut Dipping Sauce

                                                4 Tbs Peanut Butter (smooth or crunchy)
                                                2 Tbs salad oil
                                                4 Tbs soy sauce
                                                4 Tbs granulated sugar
                                                4 Tbs distilled vinegar
                                                1 tsp toasted sesame oil
                                                2 tsp Sriracha sauce (more or less to taste)
                                                1/8 tsp ground coriander

                                                Mix well.

                                                Serve over cold noodles, pot stickers or as a dipping sauce.