Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Korean-style Noodle Salad

Holiday party time rolled around once again and I had to come up with something to serve at our work shindig, AKA food orgy. After doing this for a decade and a half, I have come up with a list of criteria that makes this project a little easier on me. Or is that...more complicated?

1. The dish must be served cold, to avoid having to use one of the two puny microwaves in the kitchenette.
2. The dish must be vegetarian-friendly, as we have 2 or more veg-heads on staff at any given time.
3. The dish must be easily portable, as I take public transportation.
4. The dish should not need refrigeration, because the kitchenette fridge is always full, and usually smells bad.

There is one dish that fits: an Asian-style pasta salad. It's cold, it contains no meat (but certainly can be altered to include any protein), and the ingredients are not particularly perishable. Indeed, they can certainly sit on a cold windowsill for a couple of hours without harm.

In the past, I've made pasta salads representing many Asian nations. The best-received utilized Thai chili basil paste. I thought to make that one again, but as my Thai co-worker was bringing pad Thai, I looked to Korea for this year's inspiration. Bibim guksu is a popular cold noodle dish served in the hot Korean summers. Soba noodles are more traditional, but I went with linguine, because I like the texture of flat noodles in a cold salad. It was delicious - spicy, sweet, toasty - and I was happy to see almost all of it disappear during the party.

Cold Korean-style Noodle Salad

1 lb linguine noodles
5-6 tablespoons gochujang (Korean red chili paste)
6 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
4 tablespoons honey or agave syrup
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 bunch green onions cut in thin bias slices
2 cups broccoli slaw mix
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into strips

Cook the linguine in boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water until noodles are at room temperature.

Combine gochujang, rice vinegar, honey, soy, brown sugar, and sesame oil in a large bowl. Dump the cooked and cooled linguine on top and mix well with two forks to combine sauce and pasta. Add the green onions, broccoli slaw, and cucumber, and toss.

Serves many.

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