The Joy of the Asian Noodle Bowl
Cold Noodle Salad with Sesame Crab
Minneapolis Chefs Jamie Malone and Erik Anderson lay Asian flavors on this stone-cold stunner. "Varying texture keeps things interesting," Chef Malone says. "Don't overcook your noodles," Chef Anderson says. "You don't want them to be too soft or mushy. You want a pleasant, chewy texture. It's all part of the fun of eating noodles."
Korean Chilled Buckwheat Noodles with Chile Sauce
This dish is most popular in the summer but delicious year-round. Korean naengmyun noodles are made from wheat and buckwheat and are wonderfully chewy; Japanese soba is an adequate substitute but lacks the chewy texture. Because of the noodles' firm texture, the dish comes to the table with scissors, and you are to snip a few times and then mix everything together after enjoying the initial presentation.
Chinese Wide Noodles with Barbecue Pork and Dried Mushrooms
Here's a Chinese comfort-food favorite. A quick, healthy version of char siu pork amps up pork tenderloin with a marinade of sweet-salty hoisin sauce and aromatic five-spice powder—slivers of this meat meld with meaty wood ear mushrooms among chewy noodles bathed in a salty-sweet sauce. If you can't find wide lo mein noodles, try fettuccine.
Indonesian Stir-Fried Noodles
This easy dish is an Indonesian street-food noodle classic, and it depends on two things: serving it piping hot, right out of a very hot wok, and finding some kecap manis (pronounced KEH-chup MAH-nees), a molasses-thick sweet soy sauce. Most Asian food stores sell it (usually ABC brand). If you can't find dried Chinese egg noodles, spaghetti actually makes a good substitute.
Classic Pad Thai
The national dish of Thailand, simple to make and delicious to eat. You'll find many inauthentic versions in the U.S., some that even use ketchup or are otherwise too sweet. There should be some sweetness to the dish, but it should be balanced by tangy, savory flavors.
Vietnamese Salt and Pepper Shrimp Rice Noodle Bowl
An absolute classic, with wonderful contrasts: cold noodles, hot shrimp; chewy noodles, crisp veggies. You can prep the ingredients in advance and bring it all together right before serving. Shrimp is traditionally grilled for this dish, but searing it yields delicious results, too, without as much fuss as firing up the outdoor grill.
Shrimp Lo Mein
This takeout favorite is fast and easy with a little prep help from the kids.