Even though I’m an American living in Paris – or perhaps because of it – I find myself craving spicy food more often than anyone else around here. Whenever I get a chance to put a few shakes of spicy powder or chili sauce on something, I do it.
And to me, nothing is better to slurp up spicy sauce with than a cool bowl of noodles. I love soba, Japanese noodles made of buckwheat flour. They have a hearty flavor and slightly coarse texture that helps sauce cling to them. They can be found packed in tidy bundles in Asian markets. But Chinese noodles, fresh or dried, work very well as vehicles for this wasabi vinaigrette.
The vinaigrette sauce can be whisked together in seconds, and the noodles should be cooked just until tender, then quickly drained in a colander, running cold water over them as you toss them around to quickly stop the cooking. Once cool, mixing in a drizzle of oil will keep them from sticking together. They can be refrigerated overnight if you’re not planning to use them right away, and I’ll often make extra because I usually find myself wanting another bowl for lunch the next day!
No matter what kind of noodles I’m using, I could eat wasabi-sauced anything each and every night of the week. Not just because I love the gentle tingle of wasabi powder, but because it’s adaptable to all sorts of additions (or even leftovers). Slices of roast chicken or pork, grilled tofu or shrimp, pickled or sautéed vegetables, toasted peanuts, quartered hard-boiled eggs and chives are all wonderful additions.
If you’re having guests, set out bowls of whatever ingredients you like and let people choose what they want.
Two servings (about 1/4 cup)
Not everyone has fish sauce on hand, and even though I find it adds an unmistakable flavor in the background, you can omit it if you’d like.
Although wonderful over cold noodles, this is a terrific sauce for grilled or steamed fish, pan-fried chicken breasts or as a base for a zippy coleslaw made with grated raw vegetables.
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3 teaspoons Spice Islands wasabi
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger (peeled)
1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as canola or peanut oil
3/4 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
1. In a small bowl, mix together the Spice Islands wasabi powder with the lemon juice and soy sauce. Let sit 5 minutes.
2. Mix in the remaining ingredients until well-combined.
3. Taste and add additional wasabi, if desired.
4. Pour over bowls of noodles with whatever additions you wish. Garnish with shakes of black and white sesame seeds and dried chives. Then toss together in the bowl before eating.
Storage: Wasabi vinaigrette may be kept overnight, covered, in the refrigerator. Let come to room temperature before using.