Monday night dinner. It's humid and icky. Monday + humid + icky = mandate to make an easy, refreshing dinner. I decided to make a cold Chinese-style noodle dish that we had at our friends' place a few weekends ago.
But before I get to the food (I know, you're excited), let me mention a little more about our friends. They're a couple that we met randomly at an engagement party, and hit it off. They were very sociable and friendly, so we invited them over for dinner. Based on our conversation that night, it was clear that they live in a different economic stratosphere than we do (ex. vacationing in Park City, the guy taking a cab to work every day, the woman deciding to be a stay at home mom). Maybe some of their rich-ness will rub off on me and Kevin. That's the plan, anyway. Must find excuses to hang out with them more.
A few weeks later they invited us to their apartment on Central Park West. It wasn't a luxury building with ornate molding and marble, but as a city apartment dweller, you knew the second you walked into the apartment that it was awesome. It was a very spacious two bedroom, right on Central Park West, which gave them this view:
Okay this is a slight exaggeration, but NOT REALLY (this is from the south). I would have taken a picture for you and posted it, but that would have been awkward ("hi, I'm going to write a post about how jealous I am of your phatty ass apartment can I take a picture?"). I mean, I already embarrassed myself enough by almost tearing when I saw the view . They are considering moving to a suburb, but I told them to stay put in this apartment and "make it work".
Anyway, she made this simple but super delicious cold noodle dish with carrots, cucumber, scallions, and shredded chicken, dressed in a soy sauce-sesame oil-rice vinegar concoction. She also served up a mound of silken tofu bathed in soy sauce and sesame oil, topped with scallions. Again, both very simple but very tasty.
So that's what I decided to make last night, except in my little hovel of an apartment which has a view of my next door neighbor's window. Sweet. Anyway, I can't start a recipe without some of this:
Nice and dry. Perfect for a humid night.
Culatello from Salumeria Rosi around the corner
Can't forget my trusty sous chefs, whose main responsibility is to Hoover anything that falls on the floor (and my, do they do a good job):
The main ingredients: carrots, cucumbers, scallions, and baked tofu (which I used instead of chicken)*:
Which I julienned with a mandoline:
I bought this Swissmar Borner mandoline for $40 from Amazon, after seeing that it had a 4.5 star rating and over 300 reviews. I really like it. It has a few different inserts which give you four cuts: thick slices, thin slices (I know, I'm so specific), thick julienne, and thin julienne. It also comes with a handguard (lower left), which has little spikes on the bottom to grip the to-be-sliced food. There are usually little nibs left over that I chop by hand, but overall this is a huge time-saver. My biggest complaint is that it doesn't come with a dishwasher, because it really freaks me out to wash this thing by hand. I usually settle for blasting it for a minute or so with the hottest tap water because I don't want to get anywhere near the blades.
This, folks, is why I wish we could compost. But then we'd have to get cozy with a bevy of rats.
I cooked a box of thin spaghetti (and actually next time I might try to find something thinner), chilled it under running cold water, and tossed it with the veggies and tofu. In a separate bowl I mixed the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and a little bit of chili sauce. You need a shitload of sauce--I think partly because it doesn't stick so well to the cold noodles. Next time I might sauce the noodles while they're hot and then let them cool...wait a second that sounds like a pain in the ass. Never mind. I used about 6-8 TBS of soy sauce, to give you an idea, but I'd say about 2 TBS ended up just sitting at the bottom of the bowl. Bad soy sauce! Bad!
Kevin loved it. I love it when he loves my cooking. Makes me feel validated in at least one area of my life.
*I'm not vegetarian. Neither is Kevin. I would never want you to think that. Never. I'm just trying to make a commitment to eating "happy" meat and didn't feel like spending $20 on a lovingly treated chicken for this dish.