Recipes | Spicy sesame ramen salad

Recipes

Spicy sesame ramen salad

I love the recipes in Tim Anderson's new book Your Home Izakaya which is subtitled 'fun and simple recipes inspired by the drinking-and-dining dens of Japan' but this ramen salad really stood out for me and I can't wait to make it.

Tim writes: "The Japanese version of Sichuanese dandan noodles is tantanmen: ramen with spiced minced (ground) pork in a luxurious yet aggressive broth made from copious amounts of ground sesame and chilli oil. A variant sees these flavours translated into a massively flavourful noodle salad for all seasons, served cold but with plenty of carbs and fat to fill you up and plenty of chilli heat to keep you warm. If you have the chilli oil and sesame dressing ready to go (store-bought is fine), it’s really quick to put together, too.

SPICY SESAME RAMEN SALAD
冷やし坦々麺サラダ HIYASHI TANTANMEN SARADA

Serves 2 or up to 4 as part of a larger meal

2 tbsp chilli oil, or more, to taste
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 cm (½ in) piece of ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
150 g (5 oz) minced (ground) pork
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
100 g (3½ oz) beansprouts
2 portions ramen noodles
90–100 ml (3–3½ fl oz/scant ½–⅓ cup) sesame dressing (below)
1 cucumber, julienned
2 spring onions (scallions), very finely sliced at an angle
1 punnet salad cress
1 tbsp sesame seeds, crushed to the consistency of coarse sand
a few pinches of shichimi and sanshō (optional)
1 egg yolk

METHOD

Open a window or put your extractor fan on. Heat the chilli oil on a medium-high heat in a frying pan (skillet) and add the garlic, ginger and pork and stir-fry for about 5 minutes, breaking the pork up as you go. Add the soy sauce and mirin and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so until the liquid has reduced completely. Set aside and leave to cool while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and blanch the beansprouts for 30–60 seconds until just cooked, then remove with a sieve or slotted spoon and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Allow the water in the pan to come back to the boil, then cook the noodles until a bit softer than al dente – they will firm up when you chill them, so they should seem a bit soft. Drain the noodles and rinse them under cold water, using your hands to toss them to make sure you remove as much residual starch as possible.

Combine half of the beansprouts with all of the noodles and toss together with half of the dressing. Transfer to a serving dish, then layer the remaining beansprouts on top of the noodles, along with the cucumber and spring onions. Drizzle over the remaining sauce and extra chilli oil, if you like, then garnish with the cress, sesame seeds and spices. Place the egg yolk in the centre and mix everything well before eating.

This would be good with edamame or a couple skewers of yakitori, recipes for which are both given in the book

Tim suggests pairing this with a a very cold beer or barley tea.

Sesame dressing

This recipe calls for Chinese or Japanese-style sesame paste which is made from toasted sesame seeds but tahini is OK too - it will provide a lighter flavour

Makes about 400ml (13 fl oz/generous 1 1/2 cups)

4 tbsp sesame seeds
180g (6 1/2 oz) sesame paste or tahini
150ml (5 fl oz/scant 2/3 cup) unsweetened soya milk
2 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp vinegar (I'm guessing rice vinegar here FB)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dashi powder

Tip the sesame seeds into a frying pan (skillet) and set over a medium-high heat. Cook the sesame seeds stirring constantly for about 10 minutes until they are noticeably more aromatic and darker in colour. Remove from the pan and leave to cool. Coarsely grind the sesame seeds in a mortar, food processor or spice mill, then add the remaining ingredients and stir until the sugar dissolves. Keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Extracted from Your Home Izakaya by Tim Anderson, published by Hardie Grant at £25. Photography by Laura Edwards.

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