Saturday, September 29, 2012

Recipe: Cold Noodle Salad

Fourth pairing at the Only Cafe beer and food pairing event. The beer that this salad was paired with was St. Ambroise Pumpkin Ale.

What is it? 
Soba noodles with green onions, ginger and an asian type dressing.

Why did you choose this?
Fourth course and there had been no "potatoes". No starch. Every meal needs a little starch.

One of the first craft beers I had ever tried was St. Ambroise's Apricot Wheat Ale. This was the gateway beer. These beers are seasonal. So, when we were planning this event, no pumpkin beers had showed up yet and we thought it would be a good way to bridge the gap between summer and autumn. Autumn is the time for pumpkins. I had made a cold noodle salad with slightly different ingredients in the summer with sweet potato noodles to go with a seasonal wheat beer and I thought this might be the time to make another buckwheat noodle salad.

Why this tasting?
Pumpkin is a savoury ingredient in most areas of the world except North America. Here we jam it in a pie shell with lots of sugar and call it dessert. Asian cuisine treats it like a squash. I had tried the sweet potato soba noodles as a test but they got lost with the dressing that was needed to bring out the pumpkin in the beer. Round two went to a plain noodle. It worked. This was one of the only ingredients in the whole night that I bought. Just feeling a little defensive I suppose. Anyways, in order to amp up the pumpkin flavour, ginger was added to the noodles.

By itself, the pumpkin in the ale is subtle and only shows up as an aftertaste. When paired with the pungent ginger and the toasty, earthy taste of buckwheat, the pumpkin jumped up and saved the ale from being overpowered. What seemed like a mild ale turns into a more intense brew. 

So, what is the recipe?
Do up the soba noodles according to package. If you feel like trying it yourself, here is a recipe that looks like it will work. Cool off the noodles quickly. If you are making the dish ahead, add pumpkin seed oil and sesame seed oil to coat. This will keep the noodles from sticking. If you are doing it right ahead, add less of the oils. All the next are to taste. Add some chopped green onion. Grate ginger and lemon into noodles. Add ponzu (yuzu based sauce), mirin (rice wine), lime juice, small amount of fish sauce and some salt. Add a little at a time and taste until you get to the point where you put your whole face into the bowl of noodles. That means it is good.

If you can't find ponzu, make a lime based sauce with lime, soy sauce, rice vinegar and a little fish sauce. That will come close to tasting right. You just want to boost the moreish flavour. Moreish is the english word for umami. Click the link, check ze google and whatever else to figure that out. I can think of a lot of variations that work. You could vary those to match the profile of the beer you are having. This could replace beer and wings. At least I think so.

1 comment: