Umami Cold Noodles

By • August 9, 2012 • 9 Comments

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Author Notes: Pasta salads can be considered comfort foods. This one may knock you a bit out of the comfort zone, into the Umami Zone. The flavors are so appealing that you may already have found a new level of comfort there.

My favorite Japanese-style cold noodles are made with soba and udon, but curly noodles hold their sauce better and are easier to eat. This one looks best on day one, but the flavors benefit from a night in the fridge.
susan g

Food52 Review: This noodle dish is exotic, fresh, and light, yet very full-bodied and rich in flavor. What seems like an oxymoron of descriptions is formed by the complexity of this dish's ingredients: the sauce is nutty, salty, and a little spicy, the mushrooms lend a woodsy taste, and the bok choy (which I swapped the broccoli out for) and shallots lend a vibrant, bright green crunch! I preferred this dish 'cool' over cold -- only leaving it in the fridge for a couple of hours seemed to bring out the flavors better than overnight. Alexandra K

Makes about 6 cups

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sunflower oil, or another neutral oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese mushroom soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Chinkiang black vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce (see note)
  • 4 ounces broccoli
  • 4 ounces mushrooms (I like shiitake)
  • 2 ounces shallots
  • 4 ounces curly pasta, like fusilli or radiatore
  • 4 ounces firm tofu
  1. Cut the broccoli into small florets. Peel the tender part of the stem and cut into thin, diagonal slices. Add stems to the boiling water, then add the florets once the water returns to a boil. Blanch only until they are bright green, drain, then run under cold water. Cut the mushrooms in wedges, no bigger than the florets (if you use shiitakes, use the caps only). Thinly slice the shallots, breaking up large heads first. Add the prepared vegetables to the sauce.
  2. Cook the pasta until just al dente, then run under cold water until cooled. Stir into the bowl with vegetables.
  3. Chill until ready to serve. Cut tofu into small cubes, mix into the bowl, and you're all set.
  4. NOTES: The chili-garlic sauce I use is Huy Fong ("Rooster"). For other brands, or dry crushed chilis, adjust to your taste. For a gluten-free version, I use Ancient Harvest Garden Pagodas (quinoa-corn pasta) and gluten-free soy sauce.
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Comments (9) Questions (0)


9 months ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I remember these! They are absolutely divine. I could eat a bathtub full of them. Hard to take a bathtub on a picnic, but I imagine you get my drift.


over 1 year ago loubaby

Now I can use more of my black vinegar and mushroom soy sauce...I get stuck in the rut with regular vinegars and soy. Thanks


over 1 year ago healthierkitchen

Susan, this sounds great! Sorry I missed it till now.


almost 2 years ago Kukla

Congratulations susan on the CP! I love Asian flavors and this sounds really Umami.


almost 2 years ago LE BEC FIN

nice one, susan! I am def making this.( one suggestion from an admiring sister- try Maruhon sesame oil- soooo much better than kadoya!) Black vinegar is such a great ingredient that I keep forgetting about. I bet you love black garlic too, eh? It's not so easy to find here on the East Coast but it is so interesting!
Thx again for the inspiration, and congrats on the CP.


over 2 years ago PistachioDoughnut

delicious susan..I love cold noodles esp for music concert nights, picnics..


over 2 years ago EmilyC

This sounds really Asian noodles and your version sounds light and flavorful.


over 2 years ago healthierkitchen

sounds delicious! I have the mushroom soy sauce so it's nice to find more uses!


over 2 years ago inpatskitchen

This sounds really, really good! I love pasta salads and this is certainly a wonderful Asian twist. Saved!