Thursday, April 14, 2011

Asian Noodle Salad

Here in the greater Sacramento area, we’re fortunate to have a great local chain of cafés that specializes in fresh baked scones, croissants, delicious soups, sandwiches, and fabulous salads. I love La Bou’s coffee, apricot scones, almond croissants, and grilled eggplant sandwiches. One of their most popular items is an Asian Noodle Salad. When I drop in for lunch, I usually get a small noodle salad along with either a bowl of soup or an eggplant sandwich. The noodle salad is so popular that people have written to the Sacramento Bee newspaper requesting the recipe. So far no one has been able to get La Bou’s exact recipe, but a couple have come close.

Last week I got a craving for Asian noodle salad but didn’t want to take a trip down to Sacramento, so I decided to give it a try at home. I already had some wonderful Hakubuku salt free udon noodles on hand. Most Asian noodles are packed with sodium, so I was pretty excited last year when I found Hakubuku No-Salt-Added udon noodles at World Market . A few weeks ago I was doubly excited when I found both the udon and somen Hakubuku no-salt-added noodles at a local specialty market.

I went shopping and bought some bean sprouts, a red bell pepper, and cilantro for the salad. I used two of the La Bou clone recipes that appeared in the newspaper as inspirations. The first thing I did was to prepare the dressing. When making salads, I’ve found that tossing the hot pasta or potatoes with a simple vinaigrette helps add flavor that’s missing because of boiling in unsalted water.

Asian Noodle Salad
This is a great tasting salad, full of flavor and crunch. Feel free use whatever vegetables you want. It makes a delicious side dish or a wonderful vegetarian meal all by itself. Or you could add grilled chicken or shrimp.
6-8 oz. udon no-salt-added noodles (substitute vermicelli or spaghettini)
¼ – ⅓ cup coarsely chopped dry roasted peanuts, salt free
¼ – ⅓ cup mung bean sprouts, rinsed and drained well (I use my salad spinner)
¼ – ⅓ cup broccoli florets, blanched for 2-3 minutes and drained well (I use my salad spinner)
½ red bell pepper, julienned
2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup cilantro leaves, rinsed and drained well (I use my salad spinner)

2 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce (I use Chinatown brand)
2 tbsp. rice vinegar, unseasoned
2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. ginger – powder, paste, or fresh (adjust to suit your taste)
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
⅛ – ¼ tsp. hot chili oil or chili flakes (adjust to suit your taste)

Combine dressing ingredients, blending well with a whisk. Set aside.

Cook noodles following package directions. Drain well, and toss while still warm with half of the dressing. Refrigerate the noodles until cooled, stirring and separating every 15 - 20 minutes.

A few minutes before serving toss the chilled noodles with the bean sprouts, red pepper, broccoli, and green onions. Add all or part of the remaining dressing. Arrange noodles on a bed of leaf lettuce, if desired. Sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro. Serve immediately.


Anonymous said...

Shambo, this looks AMAZING!!!!!!

I love noodle salads but have virtually given them up b/c of the typically high sodium. Cannot WAIT to try this one!! I bet it'll be amazing - esp. all summer long.

Thanks so much for the recipe. Hope all is well with you, friend! :)

Anonymous said...

Just found your site and THANK YOU! I'm on a salt restricted diet for a non-heart condition, and your product reviews and recipes are just what I needed! - dcz

shambo said...

Thanks for your kind comment. For even more information and wonderful recipes, please check out Low Sodium Cooking and MegaHeart listed on the upper right hand side of my blog. Also, The Daily Dish on My Blog List has a plethora of great recipes and helpful hints.

Good luck!

Marilyn C. said...

THANK YOU!!!! I lived in Sacramento for about 30 years and loved this salad at LaBou. Now, clear across the continent in South Carolina, I long for it and couldn't ever replicate it...and I tried. Even called them once to beg for the recipe, but no luck. Yesterday my son found this for me online. I can't wait to make it (with extra peanuts on top, just like I used to order at LaBou.) Hallelujah!

shambo said...

Marilyn, as I said, this comes close to the La Bou salad, but it's slightly different because of the limited salt. However, I think it's a pretty good clone, and satisfies those cravings I get for Asian noodle salad. Hope you enjoy the recipe.