Sometimes the best dishes are the ones you make with an idea in your mind of what you want the final product to be, but where you do not follow an exact recipe. Recipes are great for people like me who enjoy step-by-step directions, but there is an extra element of creativity and excitement when you create something just from the ideas in your own mind.
My mom is a fabulous cook. She can whip up amazing dishes from scratch that draw inspiration from all types of cuisines. For lunch this week, my mom was craving noodles (what else is new). Here is what she created for our lunch:
In Japan they call it Hiyashi Chu-ka Soba, which literally means “chilled Chinese noodles.” This is a typical authentic noodle dish in Japan for those hot summer days when eating a steaming bowl of udon or ramen just doesn’t seem to make sense. The traditional version uses curly ramen-like noodles. It is not complex, but it has a very light sweet-sour summery dressing with julienned cucumbers, tamago, and ham on top.
Here is the run-down on the dish prepared by my mom:
Noodles: kishimen (a flat type of udon noodle made of wheat flour from Nagoya)
Fruits & veggies: julienned Romaine lettuce, halved grape tomatoes, shimeji mushroom (sautéed with ground beef, garlic, brown sugar, and soy), thinly sliced nashi (Japanese pear), sliced green onions
Sauces: rice vinegar, mirin, soy, fish sauce, sesame oil, sugar, salt
Extras: soft boiled egg, cilantro, sriracha
The result: a refreshing noodle dish packed with delicately prepared veggies and layered with an intriguing blend of sweet, salty and savory sauces. The texture contrasts between the chewy noodles, crunchy nashi, and smooth and runny egg added a greater level of complexity to the dish. It was a wonderful lunch and a window into the Japanese summers, which I have not experienced in 18 years. I am extremely lucky to have such a culinary genius for my mother.