Ginger-scallion noodles with quick pickles

April 12, 2011 § 4 Comments

Ginger-scallion noodles and quick pickles are some of the easiest dishes I know, and more importantly, they’re tasty and crowd-pleasing. Mostly, though, I adore them because they bring alive the flavors of my childhood. Ginger and scallions are, of course, two cornerstones of Chinese cooking, along with soy sauce and garlic, and the pickles are kind of a cousin to my mom’s classic cucumber salad, and one of my very first posted recipes.


I am inordinately fond of the pickles because for a long time I never thought I’d be able to eat them again, the restaurant where I first enjoyed them having closed right after I graduated from college. While all the meals were spectacular (and I’m still trying to replicate a few other dishes), the taste of the pickles in particular fascinated me. They are subtly sweet with a slight sour kick and perfect with any sort of Asian-type meal, though I generally tend to make them to accompany these ginger-scallion noodles, as their fresh, crisp taste contrasts nicely with the ginger-scallion sauce.


Of course, the sauce, heady with the fragrance of ginger, the sweet onion-y tang of scallions, and the slight acidity of rice wine vinegar, could be tossed together with chicken or tofu or eggplant, or really anything with which you like ginger and scallions.

Generally, though, I make the sauce to go with noodles since in the time it takes to boil water for noodles and cook them, I can have the sauce done and sitting patiently on the counter, with all its flavors melding happily. I adapted it by swapping out sherry vinegar for the lighter rice wine vinegar, and adding in a bit of sesame oil to tie everything together and add some depth.


The noodles I have come to favor for this dish are, oddly enough, not Chinese noodles, but Japanese buckwheat soba noodles, as the not-quite-bitter edge of buckwheat is delightful when contrasted against the staccato bite of ginger and garlic. And I must admit that I quite like that David Chang, the author of Momofuku from whom I adapted these two recipes very liberally, is similarly tastebud-driven. Ultimately, that’s why I like Momofuku so much, because if nothing else, he espouses that food should taste good. To which I would like to add that these recipes are perfect for adapting to your tastes, and I hope you enjoy making them your own as I have made them mine.

Ginger-scallion noodles

Heavily adapted from Momofuku‘s homage to Great New York Noodletown’s ginger-scallion sauce

Sauce quantity is for four servings of soba noodles (about three cups of sauce)

Ingredients

  • Two and a half thinly sliced scallions, white and medium-green parts only (from about two bunches)
  • 1/3 cup grated ginger (see note)
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil (or other neutral oil)
  • One and a half teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • One teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • One teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Approximately 500 grams/5 ounces buckwheat soba noodles
  • Hoisin sauce, to serve, and a little goes a long way

1. Combine all ingredients (except soba noodles and hoisin sauce), and stir. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Let rest on the counter if serving within thirty minutes, or covered in the refrigerator for up to a day.

2. Meanwhile, boil water for soba noodles. Cook soba noodles according to directions, then drain, rinse, and drain again.

3. Toss together ginger-scallion sauce and noodles. Serve right away.

Note: I freeze ginger roots after purchasing. Then, when I need some, I remove the peel, and then grate what I need with a microplane grater, returning the frozen piece back to the freezer. Otherwise it seems to go bad in the refrigerator quite quickly.

If making ginger-scallion noodles in advance, dress noodles right before serving, after letting noodles and sauce come to room temperature.

Quick pickles

Inspired by the much-missed Bob’s 88, and heavily adapted from Momofuku

Serves two to four (about two to three cups of cucumbers)

Ingredients

  • Two kirby (pickling) cucumbers, sliced into thin wedges (rather like homestyle potato fries)
  • One teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • One tablespoon granulated sugar, or to taste
  • One teaspoon rice wine vinegar, or to taste

1. Mix together all ingredients. Serve after five minutes, checking seasoning again right before serving. (If the seasonings are totally awry, it is recommended that the pickles be rinsed in a colander, and then tasted again, correcting with salt, sugar, and/or vinegar.)

Note: pickles are best served within thirty minutes, but can be kept up to four hours in the refrigerator before serving.

Bibliography

Chang, David, and Peter Meehan. “Ginger scallion noodles.” Momofuku. New York: Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2009 (57).

Chang, David, and Peter Meehan. “Quick salt pickles, master recipe.” Momofuku. New York: Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2009 (65).

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