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.
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.