giving in to fusion

when it comes to asian food, i'm usually anti-fusion. lucky me grew up eating all kinds of authentic asian food. i love LA.

my mom is pretty good at cooking korean food. so yes, i'm a total korean snob. kogi truck? bleh. you won't catch me there until there's a 5 minute or less line. momofuku ssam? i'm skeptical.

i'm also now a thai snob thanks to the bear and bear-ents. i did, however, live on the westside for more than a few years and ate my faux thai in secret when i had cravings for semi-decent asian food for lunch. shh. don't tell the bear. well, he already knows. there isn't much he doesn't know about me.

chinese? i went to high school in the san gabriel valley. most of my friends were chinese-american. they took me to the best dimsum, cantonese seafood palaces, shanghainese places to eat those flat, pan-fried rice cakes, hong kong-style cafes, and taiwanese cafes.

japanese? my grandparents were young'uns during the japanese occupation of korea. they had to adopt new names and forget their old (but luckily got them back soon enough). they still count in japanese when counting out loud. they also had to eat the food and learned how to make it pretty well. maternal grandma makes THE best cold soba noodle dipping base from scratch and hand cuts all the veggies etc. that you throw in the broth into perfectly uniform matchsticks. paternal grandma makes THE best red bean mochi, which she used to freeze as soon as she made them and then hide in her suitcase. 12 hours later, after she landed in LA, they'd be perfectly thawed. plus this is LA, land of sushi and inventor of rolls (albeit those aren't really authentic). i also ate dinner quite often at an old friend's place. her first generation mom would make us all kinds of yummy, authentic j-food, too. and i lived on sawtelle for a few years with e11even, who pretty much qualifies as a fob. she'd even pack me cutesy bento or homemade onigiri to take to work once in awhile.

vietnamese? DT, a high school friend, would regularly bring banh mi from her mom's super secret favorite shop for lunch and share with us. yep, we'd devour the pate, cured pork, and whatever else was in those super secret sandwiches. she also took us to her super secret favorite pho place where they'd put the rare meat on the side, give us an extra bowl of broth just for cooking the meat to our liking and then put it in the unadulterated bowl of noodles and broth. it was like $3 a bowl back in high school. so cheap. so satisfying.

hawaiian fusion? alright, they get a pass since those asians have been there for generations and because they love and use spam. they mostly get a pass because of the spam.

i hate paying high-ish prices for asian cooking when i could find a yummy, down home, hole-in-the-wall that does it better for less.

i'm a purist. what can i say?

it's been hot.
yay. we're finally all settled into our homey 1920s bungalow. not really my style, but very cozy and cute.
boo. but it was built in the 1920s--which means no A/C. no A/C units in any of the rooms, either.
yay. luckily, we have super old trees that shade the back half of the house. and ceiling fans in the bedrooms. and many fans left over from our last oven place.

i wanted to eat something cool.
now that i'm actually slaving over the stove again almost every weekday,
it's no fun heating the oven
(and making the whole kitchen an oven in the process)
or having more than one burner on on the stove.
yay. we have a brand new gas range with kickass burners in three different sizes/strengths.
yay. we have this kickass new, stainless steel, commercial work table since there is almost no counter space in the old (but spacious) kitchen. it's the star of the photos below. well, supporting actor, after the food.

my maternal grandma told me to eat spicy things when it's hot to cool off. yeah, i don't get it, either. my mom hypothesized that when you eat spicy, you sweat a lot and the boogers flow, carrying hot fluids away from your body and evaporating on your skin, thus cooling you. yeah, i can't believe she used to be a chemist, either.

finally, the recipe.

mango jalapeño cold soba noodles
4 servings
loosely adapted from these two recipes:
nigella's cold soba noodles [via wan]
cooking light's soba noodle salad with citrus vinaigrette

in the pot:
8.8 ounces soba noodles (about three bundles)

in [medium] bowl #1:
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 lime's juice

in [large] bowl #2:
3 green onions
2 teaspoons finely chopped cilantro
(i used the frozen, dorot brand from trader joe's, which
flecked the noodles evenly and beautifully...kind of like those seaweed-flecked japanese rice crackers)
1 carrot, matchstick-cut
1 large, ripe mango, cubed
1 large jalapeño, finely chopped (i left the seeds and membranes in. remove that hot stuff or use less of the jalapeno if you're sensitive to heat...from either end ;) )

oh, and 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger might have been nice. but as typical of me, i forgot to buy ginger. even with my carefully written out grocery list in hand.

do the pot:
boil some water. throw some salt in if you want, but i find soba noodles don't really need it. throw the noodles in. don't spill half a bundle on the counter like i did.

rinse the noodles under cold water, lifting up chunks o' noodles as you go so all the noodles cool down.

do [medium] bowl #1:
throw it all in. whisk it together.

throw the boiled, cooled noodles in. toss to coat evenly.

do [large] bowl #2:
throw it all in. toss it together.

throw the boiled, cooled, saucy noodles in. toss to distribute chunkies evenly.

cover and throw the bowl in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. i had to serve almost immediately, and it was still good. however, it was better the next day.


i served this alongside pioneer woman's firecracker shrimp with the following adjustments.
- increased the sriracha to 3 tablespoons. we love spicy.
- pan-fried the shrimp (no additional oil, a couple minutes on each side) rather than grilling them. my indoor grill/panini press also heats up the kitchen too much, which results in sweaty potato dripping into the food she's cooking. gross.

a side of big bang theory. HI-larious. i usually hate science-y dorks because i am a dork but not of that kind, but i LOVE these geeks. a lot.


  1. - Wow, you write a lot.
    - I kid.
    - I've been craving soba noodles, and I normally don't like cold noodles. Weird.
    - Let's make non-newtonian fluid the next time we have a GTG!
    - Or not. Fine.

  2. I love cold soba noodles. I think I'll try this recipe out soon - except minus all the spicy. Both K and I are weaksauce like that.

  3. oh yeah, for jane and others that don't love as much spicy, throw in a serrano chile with no seeds and membranes. the extra green, crunch, and very slight kick is needed to cut the sweetness of the mango and salty-sweet of the dressing.

  4. I share your sentiments about Asian fusion. Is that super secret pho place still around? If so, please share!

  5. Anytime I have lived in places without AC, I have installed window units myself. Pretty ghetto, but it beats the heat.

  6. LOVE cold soba noodles! But I'll bet my bottled dipping sauce is nothing next to Gramma's. =)

  7. Soba noodles looks like worms!!! :giggling:

  8. Mmm. That looks really tasty. If I ever get my kitchen cleaned, I'll give it a try.

  9. I think it might be that spicy food is cooling because it makes you sweat, which cools you down. If you look at all the "hot zones" around the equator, they all eat spicy food, and many drink hot tea a lot, too.

    I am jealous of all your varied cultural culinary background. I LOVE Asian food...and I agree. I prefer the hole-in-the-wall dives far more than the fancy fusion places.

  10. momofuku ssam bar was quite good, but it's nothing close to being worthy of the hype.

    We can find all the same things in K-town, Little Tokyo, and the SGV for just a fraction of the price.

    The difference, however, was the quality of the ingredients, which I must say was noticeably excellent.

    Nevertheless, the high ratings and raves of the place clearly come from whiteys who don't know any better.

    Yeah, I said it.

  11. I am LMAO at Weezermonkey's comment.

    Reading this entry made my stomach growl. I will have to try the soba recipe soon. The mango sounds interesting, and I will super kick up the spicy, since I'm Korean like that, heh.

  12. Those noodles look fabu! I'm drooling over your new work table, too.


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