This month's Washoku Warriors challenge was chilled noodles - either thin somen noodles or hiyashi chuka (chilled chinese noodle salad). Since I made hiyashi chuka last summer as part of the miso challenge I decided to make somen. U wasn't impressed - he couldn't figure out what there was to make as somen are a super quick and easy meal that takes almost no effort to as the dipping sauce for the chilled noodles tends to come from a bottle. When I explained that no, I'd actually be making the sauce from scratch he was very surprised! I was equally surprised by how easy it was to make the sauce and by how much better it is than the store bought bottled stuff.
I loved having lots of fresh toppings - grated ginger, chopped green onions, shiso, and roasted seaweed - and the dipping sauce was a perfect balance of salty/sweet/flavourful... mmmm!
A few nights later, after one night of somen salad (lettuce and other veggies thrown on top of the somen and tossed with a sesame dressing) as I was wondering what to do with the rest of my package of noodles, I happened to turn on the tv to a prime-time cooking game show. The show has tv personalities come up with yummy easy recipes that are super fast (some recipes are under a minute in prep time, whereas others or entire meals can take up to 10 minutes). These aren't gourmet meals, nor are they using ingredients from scratch most of the time (like the gratin made with left-over rice, ketchup, potato croquette, and shredded processed cheese), but the recipes are easy and fun. The theme the night I was watching happened to be somen, and the contestants had to mix up a fresh take on the dipping sauce and deliver it to the taste-testers before the noodles found their way down the bamboo water-slide and past the testers. Some of the mixtures the contestants came up with were downright odd and despite the rapturous claims of "DELICIOUS!!" squeeled by the testers, I wasn't so sure... (I mean come on, my tomato allergy aside, throwing salsa and ground parmesan into the soy sauce-based dipping sauce?! urrrrmmm....) But there was one recipe that caught my interest, for a spicy tantan somen - made by adding only three ingredients to the usual dipping sauce!
So I gave it a try...
and it was DELICIOUS! Sweet and spicy and creamy... and spicy! Obviously not as good as if I had spent hours slaving over a real tantan noodle soup, but amazing for something that took me less than 2 minutes to mix up with things that were already in my cupboard. Any guesses? (a hint - one's very Japanese, one's very North American, and the third is not originally Japanese but is currently a super popular item here)