Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Vegetable & Mung Bean Noodle Salad with Creamy Teriyaki Dressing

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when a recipe with a name like this one has would have scared me off. Asian flavor profiles have never been my strong suit, and an ingredient list like this one takes some getting used to.

Tofu...miso...sambal oelek... Not everyone has purchased these items before. Don't worry; they're easy to find in any large grocery. Check the refrigerated produce section for tofu (often near other "specialty foods" like ginger root, fresh herbs, and bottled garlic) and the Asian foods section for everything else that sounds strange. Though the products may be unfamiliar, I guarantee you'll recognize their aromas and flavors. They may even become new staples in your kitchen, as they have in mine.

Though it involves stir-frying, this recipe is more easily managed than many Asian dishes because it is intended to be served at room temperature. So, there's not need for that sweaty rush from wok to table. Speaking of woks: If you don't have one, a deep, heavy-bottomed skillet works fine. I prefer to use a Dutch oven to make tossing the ingredients easier.

Vegetable & Mung Bean Noodle Salad with Creamy Teriyaki Dressing

4 oz firm silken tofu
1/3 cup spicy miso teriyaki sauce
1 Tbs sambal oelek (ground fresh chili paste)
2 Tbs fresh ginger, grated
2 Tbs lemon juice
1Tbs sesame oil

Combine dressing ingredients in food processor and blend until creamy. If you prefer more heat, add additional sambal oelek to taste. Bear in mind that the dressing will taste milder once combined with the vegetables and noodles. For a saltier dressing, add a dash of soy sauce.

1 (6 oz) package saifun (mung bean noodles)
6 cups thinly sliced vegetables (I used carrots, broccoli, celery, and bell peppers. Sugar snap peas, mushrooms, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, and more would also be tasty.)
2 Tbs sesame oil
2 Tbs sesame seeds, toasted
3 scallions, chopped

Stir fry vegetables (except scallions) in sesame oil, over medium-high heat, until crisp-tender. Allow to cool. Meanwhile, cook saifun according to package directions (boil, don't fry). Drain and rinse with cold water to cool.

Combine saifun, vegetables, and dressing in large bowl, stirring gently to combine. Serve topped with sesame seeds and scallions.

Makes 4 dinner servings.

Side dish suggestion: Mix hot, brown basmati rice with onion, garlic, and kale lightly sauteed in sesame oil and drizzled with soy sauce.

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