Instead of the cookout-classic pasta salad, chef Chris Shepherd of Underbelly in Houston serves this refreshing Asian noodle dish zipped up with crunchy vegetables.
Featured in: A Houston Cookout with a Far East Reach
- 3⁄4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tbsp. mirin
- 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. fish sauce
- 1 English cucumber, sliced 1/8-inch thick
- 1 red bell pepper, minced
- 1 red Thai chile, thinly sliced
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 (8-oz.) package dried buckwheat soba noodles
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1⁄4 cup toasted sesame oil
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, preferably Meyer
- 2 tbsp. bonito flakes (amazon.com)
- Mint and Thai basil leaves, for garnish
- Mix cilantro, 1⁄4 cup each mirin and vinegar, the brown sugar, fish sauce, cucumber, bell pepper, chile, onion, salt, and pepper in a bowl and set cucumber mixture aside.
- Bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil; cook noodles until al dente, 4 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking; drain and spread on paper towels to dry. Bring remaining vinegar, 1⁄2 cup soy sauce, the granulated sugar, and 1⁄2 cup water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over high; remove from heat and let cool. Toss vinegar mixture with noodles and the sesame oil and transfer to a serving bowl; top with reserved cucumber mixture. Bring remaining mirin and soy, plus the lemon juice, to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan. Remove from heat and add bonito flakes; let cool, then strain ponzu. Drizzle over noodles and garnish with mint and basil.