24 September 2011

Noodles and a Chickpea

When it comes to brothy noodle dishes, I tend to prefer them steaming-hot. One of my favorite dishes from childhood, tempura udon, is just that--soupy and brimming with hot dashi, battered-and-fried veggies, and thick, chewy strands of wheat noodles. During my university years, I discovered vegetarian pho and developed an affinity toward it as well. A huge bowl of rice noodles, fried tofu, and hot, spiced, citrus-tinged broth was the perfect antidote for having to spend a chilly day on campus.

Fast-forward to about a year ago. While browsing a Korean market near my sister's house, I spotted a small display of bright green packages labeled "Sea Tangle Noodles." Those packages housed crunchy, tangled bundles of kelp-based strands that look like rice vermicelli, but unlike rice noodles, can be eaten raw. My first taste of this unique item was in something akin to a cold noodle salad, dressed lightly in a simple peanut sauce. Despite initial hesitation about eating raw noodles, I liked them and was content to enjoy them, repeatedly, as a type of cold or room temperature, crisp side dish.

It wasn't until reading this post that I even really considered eating kelp noodles in a soup. It wasn't just any soup, either. It was a raw soup. I knew that cold soups are not exactly novel--gazpacho, anyone?--but never actually tasted one. And this particular post was about vegetarian pho from Ani's Raw Food Asia. Yes, pho--something I only knew of as being hot and cooked, not crunchy and raw. The idea of truly enjoying raw pho was a bit challenging to comprehend, but certainly intrigued me.

So I tried it. And I liked it. It's actually quite satisfying. The savory broth hits those comfort notes without scorching one's mouth with molten liquid. The crispness of the vegetables is refreshing. The kelp noodles that look so much like rice vermicelli actually mimic the texture of them, softening when steeped in the broth for a few minutes. I doubt Ani's version of pho will ever top my preference for the hot stuff, but if anyone knew how many times I've eaten raw pho during the last week (hint: several), it would be clear to them that I've quite taken to this creative take on a traditional noodle dish.
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In other vegan news, the inaugural issue of Chickpea magazine is online for your viewing pleasure. What is Chickpea, you ask? It's a new and absolutely lovely vegan quarterly from the creators of hipsterfood, covering all things vegan. I'm honored to have my article, "Veganizing Island Fare," as well as accompanying recipe for Pancit Canton (more noodles!), included among so many fabulous contributions. Click here to find out more about the magazine, and don't forget to read the Fall 2011 issue.

8 comments:

  1. Mmmm! Oh man, this looks so fresh and delicious. Sea Triangle Noodles sound so mysterious... They look like jellyfish tentacles :)

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  2. I always want to try those kelp noodles but I'm not even sure where I'd find them or what I'd do but this looks pretty great. I've been enjoying a lot of noodle soups lately but a raw soup might be a nice change. Your photos are always gorgeous, btw.

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  3. Isn't the raw pho great? I love Ani's recipe, I have a package of kelp noodles in the fridge to make some more this week. Though I still like a bowl of hot noodles too especially with the colder months coming up. :-)

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  4. Anna Sokolovskaya9/26/11, 5:11 AM

    I love hot Pho and this cold version looks very tempting...  I will have to start looking for Kelp noodles around here.  Where do you get yours?

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  5. That soup looks so beautiful! I love the colours.

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  6. congratulations on having an article in the magazine! that's awesome.

    I was drooling over this pho when you posted this photo on twitter but had a similar concern about it being raw. But now I can see raw pho must be good:)

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  7. I don't buy them often, but when I do, they're from a local Asian market that carries mostly Korean groceries and other goods (the noodles are a Korean product). I imagine that any well-stocked Asian market would have them. I've also seen kelp noodles at Whole Foods.

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Thanks for reading! Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. :)