Monday, June 21, 2010

Mom, Tea, Momofuko, and me

lunch, June 21, 2010

I go through phases with ingredients. Some of my rhubarb phase was documented here. I adore rhubarb. I recently completed a dill and pea phase. It was glorious. The cucumber is my current muse in the kitchen. My mom loves the humble cucumber. She grew them in our garden. She got me started early. It's all her fault. Well, not completely. I spent the weekend with David Chang. Not really. But I did spend the weekend with his book, Momofuku (thanks, Amelia). It's fun. He's inspiring. Also, I just really like cucumbers. I made this for lunch today.

Cucumber Noodles for Two

1 onion caramelized a la Tea

1 medium cucumber peeled and sliced thin
1 medium carrot peeled and sliced thin
1 thumb fresh ginger peeled and chopped fine
2 cloves fresh garlic peeled and chopped fine
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves chopped

1 generous pinch (maybe 2) dried red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar

3 oz. Sōmen noodles (any thin noodle will do) prepared per package instructions and rinsed in cold water

1 handful of peanuts chopped
1 sprinkle of black sesame seeds

Begin caramelizing your onion.
If you haven't done this before, follow Tea's lead. They are a fantastic condiment. Feel free to make extra.

Prep cucumber, carrot, garlic, ginger, and cilantro and place in medium bowl with lid.

Don't forget about those caramelizing onions.

Add red pepper flakes, fish sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar to bowl. Cover bowl with lid. Make sure it's secure. Turn the bowl around a few times (somersault style) and put it in the refrigerator.

Finish caramelizing your onions and set them aside to cool.

Chop peanuts and set aside.

Cook noodles, rinse with cold water, drain well, and split between two attractive bowls.

Pull your bowl from the refrigerator and distribute its contents between the two attractive bowls.

Sprinkle some peanuts into each bowl. Now a few pinches of black sesame seeds.

Finish each bowl with a nice mound of caramelized onions.

I've made so many versions of this I've lost count. Above is just one. Play around with the ingredients. Add (maybe some mint). Subtract (oust the red pepper). Make it your own.


  1. Just as i was wondering what to make for dinner on this 94 degree solstice night!

    Perfect, thank you.

  2. Are there any leftovers for dinner?

    Sounds delicious.

  3. flwrjane, 94 degrees? You might want to switch green onions in for caramelized. Make it easy. Keep it cool.

    knowledgeman, Yes! I ate just one bowl. All of the ingredients for your bowl are here waiting for you.

  4. oh yum.
    i with you on the food phase thing.
    must get that book!
    thank you for sharing :)

  5. You must be a genius, because even I, one who does not lean towards asian inspired dishes thinks this must taste rather good. I think you had me at cucumber...and peanut...and...What a beautifully composed dish.

  6. I believe it's time for me to invite myself over for lunch. ;)

    that's sounds delicious!

  7. Made it,ate it, LOVED it!

    And indeed carmelized onions are the bacon of the vegetable world.

  8. I am going through a soba noodle craze. I have to try this recipe. It sounds delicious and I already love all the ingredients!

  9. oh my goodness, that looks so good!!
    lunch tomorrow!!

  10. this looks great to me...will have to try it soon. love cucumber myself :)

  11. I love the way you write your recipes, Denise. I feel like I'm right there in the kitchen. Yum!

  12. wow.

    and, I love your mom's humble cuke recipe.

    a friend recently sent me a list of all the cucumbers good points--besides taste, of course! Some were healthful, some funny.(stress reliever, cellulite remover, headache curer, facial, afternoon pick-me-up beverage infuser, garden slug repeller,bathroom mirror defogger

    one cucumber has almost all the vitamins you need!
    a marvelous food phase...

  13. A poet and a cook and artistic presenter of food! Wow, what a well rounded girl you are!
    Looks so good!

  14. Mmm... yes, I think lots of extra caramelized onions is just what I need.

  15. Oh my goodness. I want to eat this right now. (I'm on the Other Coast and it's almost lunchtime.) When I get home, I'm definitely going to make this. Yay.

  16. such a great summer dish. thanks for the recipe!

    xo Alison

  17. sounds heavenly! and tried and true. i have some cucumbers growing, this is perfect.

  18. This looks completely amazing. Thank you for all the good ideas you share.

  19. cannot wait to try this.

    also, how is the barbara pym book? i've never read her work but have always wanted to.

    ps: i'm in my pea phase currently.

  20. abby, On to the cherry phase...

    Tracy, Thank you. I am quite flattered.

    mosey, Come on over.

    flwrjane, Excellent!

    roysie, Go for it, or at least some version of it. If you switch something up and love it, let me know.

    Char, It is pretty great, but I am biased. I love plain cucumbers. I'll even eat them without salt...

    Christine, Oh, good. Let me know if you make any nice changes.

    M., Let me know how it goes.

    Jessica, Thanks. I'm often alone in the kitchen, so it's nice to know that you are sort of joining me from time to time.

    nancy, I love that recipe from Mom too. She's the best recipe writer. Wait, cucumber = garden slug repellent? I wish I'd known about that sooner.

    Kim, What a kind comment. Thank you!

    Tumbleweed Woman, Yes, it is true. You need them. We all do.

    Haddock, It is, for me it is. Try it and see if you agree.

    Shae, Don't hurry home. It's cold and windy today. Not very exciting... Enjoy the warmth while you can.

    and flowers pick themselves, It is a nice summer dish, but today (SF) feels more like a mashed potatoes day. Brrr.

    Rachel, With home grown cucumbers it will be even better. Lucky you. I especially miss my home grown lemon cucumbers. They are fabulous in just about every way. Enjoy yours!

    alexandria, You are welcome. I enjoy the ideas and inspiration you share as well.

    Claire, Yes.

    shari, It's a good recipe to use as a starting point. You can make many twists and turns with the ingredients and it will still be tasty. I'm just getting into my new Barbara Pym book (page 16) and I am enjoying it. She seems to have a great sense of humor and it's always interesting to see the way the British use English a bit differently than we do here. For instance, I was just sent to the dictionary after feeling confused by a particular passage and learned the following:
    Main Entry: slut
    Pronunciation: \ˈslət\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English slutte
    Date: 15th century
    1 chiefly British : a slovenly woman
    2 a : a promiscuous woman; especially : prostitute b : a saucy girl : minx

  21. Denise: thanks for the quote! Love that I MUST try this salad. I go through ingredients phases too: but that's what happens when I try to eat something that's in season.

  22. Amelia, I hope you enjoy it, during your cucumber phase.

  23. Guess what we had for dinner tonight? It was so good. We used soba noodles and added grilled chicken. I burnt the onions, but we happily ate them up anyway. As S said, "Sexy ingredients!" I think it'll be a regular.

  24. Shae, Sexy, I like that ingredient description. I think I'll be making this again soon.