I’ve never been to the States, so amongst the many possible pleasures I could experience there I’ve never been to any of the acclaimed Momofuku restaurants. All things considered, I didn’t have any particular reason (other than the words of my favourite food bloggers) to trust a recipe by David Chang. But I was curious.
At first I thought this noodle salad (seemingly bereft of anything fun like chillies or bacon) could only really delight the palates belonging to the boringly virtuous, those sandal-wearing yoghurt-fanciers. I was wrong: it’s tasty. The sheer amount of fresh ginger and the raw spring onions make the sauce hot and complex against the soft, cool noodles. Crispy tofu slices are a delicious contrast, adding extra bulk and bite to the dish. I’m pretty sure you could try this sauce with any sort of noodle and assortment of toppings.
There are three further things to which I wish to draw your attention: firstly, it’s worth noting that spring onions are in season right now. Secondly, there’s an ‘explosive’ version by another renowned American chef, Francis Lam, which can be kept in a jar ready to pour over anything and everything. Thirdly, depending on your sensibilities this might not be a first date dish; if you’re brazen and greedy like me, though, you probably won’t care.
- For the sauce:
- . 100g fresh ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
- . 100g spring onions, both white and green parts thinly sliced
- . 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, preferably neutral tasting (e.g. sunflower, grapeseed)
- . ¼ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- . ¾ teaspoon light soy sauce
- . ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- . ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- . About 200g somen (or other thin wheat noodles)
- For the tofu:
- . Roughly 250g firm tofu (non-silken), cut into 2 cm thick slabs
- . 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- . 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- . Salt to taste
- Make the sauce: mix the chopped ginger, spring onions, vegetable oil, sesame oil, light soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and salt together in a bowl.
- Leave to sit for about 20 minutes.
- Taste and season the sauce to your taste.
- For the tofu, place on a plate and sprinkle evenly with the soy sauce.
- Let them marinade for a couple of minutes before wiping away excess liquid with a kitchen towel.
- Heat a frying pan on a medium flame and add the oil, then – in batches, if needed - fry the tofu pieces until golden brown on each side. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside – the tofu will get crispier as they sit.
- Cook the somen: bring a large pan of water to the boil, then add all the somen at once, spreading the noodles in the pan.
- Cook for about 2 minutes; eat one to check – it should be slithery but still with a little bounce. When they’re ready, immediately drain the noodles in a colander.
- Rinse well under cold water, gently washing the strands with your hands.
- Toss 5 – 6 tablespoons of the sauce with the noodles, thoroughly coating them.
- Divide them between serving plates and top with the tofu pieces; eat immediately.
Image courtesy of Pear Nuallak