Monday, July 16, 2012

Asian Noodle salad for a crowd

I am not much of a "rice" person. I am supposed to be one since I am ethnic Southern Chinese, we are supposed to be a rice eating culture. In old China, rice grew in the south while wheat in the north. It dictated the starch of each of the group. I always love noodle, any noodles, hot, cold, soup, pan fried or simply tossed with oyster sauce and shoyu. It is my ultimate comfort food.

Here is a recipe that I made from time to time in the summer, it requires a little bit of cooking - making the noodle. There is a bit of chopping and cutting, otherwise it is a simple recipe.  It is a great summer dish for a pot-luck. This is why I am making this!

My big Samoa braddah introduced me to a Chinese BBQ  Hiep Thanh BBQ and Deli  in Brooklyn Park,  North Minneapolis. It is ran by a Vietnamese Chinese family. The nicest people and great food too! They makes Char Sui, Chinese roast pork. I got some for this salad. You can always replace the meat with rotisserie chicken. I make this vegan sometime with no meat at all. I would however replace the meat with julienne carrot, pea pods and celery.

As with the dressing, you will notice I am using a few South East Asian herbs and spices, my other "Southern" root. Lemon grass, galanga and keffir leaves are all favorites of Thai, Indonesian and Malaysian cooking. I am very luck to have a keffir plant. If fresh is not available in your Asian store, check the frozen food section, you may find it there.

You will also notice that I am not salting the noodle or the vegetable. I found the salt draws too much moisture out of the the vegetable. I would rather keep the vegetable crispy and let the dressing carries the saltiness. It will balance out once you have everything tossed together.

If you decide to make ahead, separate the noodle vegetable mix and the dressing on the side, toss when ready to serve. If you are going to make it a day ahead, please chop and mix in the herbs with you are able to serve. The herbs will loss its flavor if they are cut and store overnight.

Summer Asian Noodle Salad

1 lb bag precooked Hong Kong style Shanghai noodle, you can also use Filipino Pan cit here too.
1/2 lb (about 1 cup shredded) Chinese Char Sui - BBQ pork or other kind of meat of your choice. shredded or julienned.
1/2 a nappa cabbage, shredded
1 cup bean sprout, rinsed and cleaned
1 red bell pepper, cleaned, remove stem, seed and julienne
1 cup seedless cucumber (about 1 English cucumber), cleaned and julienne
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, save a few sprig for garnish
1/2 cup roughly chopped Thai basil save a few leaves for garnish
1/4 cup roughly chopped mint, save a few sprig for garnish.
2 fresh keffir leave (option), thinly shredded
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup Japanese rice vinegar
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1/4 cup palm sugar or light brown sugar
1 tbsp shoyu
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp galangal powder

1 tsp grated lemon grass, I am using frozen product from the Asian store, you can find it in the frozen vegetable section.
2 Tbsp sesame oil
Salt and pepper

1/2 cup chopped roasted peanut
1 bag of fried plantain, crushed or fried crunchy noodles
In a large  measuring cup, mix peanut butter with crushed garlic
Add in a tsp of grated lemon grass
Add in juice of 1/2 a lime, it will be become very thick, this is why I am using a spatula to mix.
Slowly drizzle in the vinegar, keep mixing.
Once the dressing is "thinned" out, switch to a whisk to make sure the dressing is as smooth as possible
Finally whisk in sesame oil and shoyu. Taste and season with pepper or more shoyu as need. It is OK to have it a bit saltier than usual since we are not salting the noodle and the vegetable. Correct seasoning to taste, you may want more sugar or salt.
Cover and chill in the fridge to blend the flavor

In a large pot, bring to boil 6 cups of water. Drop the noodle in the water to reheat and "wash".
Remove from heat once the noodle comes to a boil

Drain and rinse the noodle under cold water. Unlike Italian cooking, we need to remove the starch from the Asian noodle, it will have a crisp feel to it. Drain and set aside.

Place bean sprouts, cucumber and red pepper in a salad spinner, remove as much water as possible with couple of "spin cycles". Repeat the same process with the cabbage to remove the water.
Place the noodle and cabbage in the large bowl, pour in 1/3 of the dressing, toss to coat.
Add bean sprout, cucumber and red pepper
Toss in the herb mix
Toss in another 1/3 of dressing
 Add the meat if desired. Toss well
Pile the noodle in a large serving bowl. Drizzle the rest of the dressing over the top.  Chill in the fridge for about an hour. You can have the toppings served on the side or sprinkle on the dish just before serving.
Garnish with a few herbs.

Serve 8 as a main course for good eater. You can always half the recipe. The dressing can be keep in the jar with a tight lid in the fridge. Use within a week.


Note: If you live in MSP, Galangal powder, frozen lemon grass, keffir lime and  the noodle are all available at most Asian stores such as United Noodle


  1. The Southeast Asian "ginger". it is also called "blue ginger" 藍薑. We used to grate the ginger by hand. I love the powder, it's not as strong with a hint of spiciness. One of my favorite spice.