think about any pasta salad you have ever had. did it involve copious amounts of mayo and/or butter? yeah, that’s what i thought.
as a midwesterner, i am far too familiar with that cloying texture. the sound of pasta salad squelching as you dig a spoon into it still haunts my nightmares. i have learned to fear the gradually deepening yellow color of the salad as it becomes warmer and warmer in the intense heat of outdoor barbecue parties. yes, i begrudgingly enjoy it now and again. but i can feel my arteries screaming in pain as i masticate every bite.
imagine eating a big fat plate of the southern-style pasta salad i just described as the main course of lunch. imagine the unending stomach pains that would result. imagine the huge spike in your blood pressure. imagine all those veggies, still half-buried in their fields somewhere, calling for the imposter “salad” to be deposed.
luckily, somewhere in a lab deep beneath the earth, japanese scientists and farmers were cooperating to create a new breed of pasta salad implementing an innovative hybrid noodle. a noodle with texture, a noodle with flavor, a noodle so fresh that veggies would shriek and swoon at the prospect of being mixed in the same bowl (if they could shriek or swoon).
and they called that noodle harusame.
made of mung bean starch, water, and magic, they are the perfect choice for a fresh, filling, and absolutely delicious summer salad.
glass noodle salad
- harusame (a.k.a. glass noodles)
- daikon sprouts (a.k.a. kaiware)
- a cucumber
- one white onion
- hot oil
- sesame oil
- black pepper
- chicken stock
- thinly sliced shabu pork (optional)
- black or white sesame seeds (for garnish)
- if you chose to include pork, get a pan with a little bit of oil nice and hot, and toss in the pork. make sure to do your best to keep it from curling up while it cooks. it is nice and thin, so i should cook quickly. when it gets close to done, add a little bit of soy sauce, black pepper, chinese hot pepper, and fresh ginger. place it in a bowl and pop it in the fridge to let it cool.
- add your chicken stock to a pot and bring it to a boil. once it gets there, add in the harusame. make sure to watch these bad boys, as they cook far faster than any pasta you have ever experienced. they aren’t flour based, so they won’t foam and froth and boil over. just stand over the pot, stirring gently, for a few minutes. try a noodle every now and again. your goal is to cook the noodles to the point of no longer being crunchy. they should be soft and slightly rubbery.
- when finished, drain off most of the chicken stock (you can leave a little bit) and put the contents of the pan into a metal bowl. add some ice, course salt, and water to a large metal bowl, and set the noodle bowl afloat in it. this process will chill the noodles while you prep the rest of your ingredients.
- add about a tablespoon of hot oil to the noodles along with a liberal dose of black pepper. toss to coat. you can use your hands if you like, just make sure not to burn yourself. the mass of noodles can still be pretty hot in the middle. tossing them will also help them cool faster.
- get out your cucumber, and slice off the ends. cut it in half, and then julienne like there is no tomorrow. you should end up with a pretty impressive pile of super thin shoestring cucumber. set it aside.
- peel the onion, cut it in half, and slice it as thin as you possibly can. the onions should be transparent they are so thin. set them aside as well.
- rinse your daikon sprouts, drain them of as much water as you can, and slice of the base. set them aside.
- when the noodles are nice and chilled, add in all of your ingredients (don’t forget about the pork if you chose to include it) and toss to make sure everything is evenly distributed.
- pile as much as you can on a huge serving plate.
- drizzle the salad with some of that sesame oil you have been waiting so patiently to use. top off the whole ensemble with some sesame seeds.
- eat till you can eat no more. eat a salad this light will fill you up, but it’ll leave you feeling spry and nimble (instead of bloated and sad).
- note: this salad keeps super well because of its lack of conventional dressing. pack up your leftovers in an airtight container and take them to work for lunch the next day. you’ll be the envy of the whole office.