New York, NY –
ginger scallion noodles
Our ginger scallion noodles are an homage to/out-and-out rip-off of one of the greatest dishes in New York City: the $4.95 plate of ginger scallion noodles at Great New York Noodletown down on the Bowery in Chinatown.
Ginger scallion sauce is one of the greatest sauces or condiments ever. Ever. It’s definitely a mother sauce at Momofuku, something that we use over and over and over again. If you have ginger scallion sauce in the fridge, you will never go hungry: stir 6 tablespoons into a bowl of hot noodles—lo mein, rice noodles, Shanghai thick noodles—and you’re in business. Or serve over a bowl of rice topped with a fried egg. Or with grilled meat or any kind of seafood. Or almost anything.
At Noodle Bar, we add a few vegetables to the Noodletown dish to appease the vegetarians, add a little sherry vinegar to the sauce to cut the fat, and leave off the squirt of hoisin sauce that Noodletown finishes the noodles with. (Not because it’s a bad idea or anything, just that we’ve got hoisin in our pork buns, and too much hoisin in a meal can be too much of a good thing. Feel free to add it back.) The dish goes something like this: boil 6 ounces of ramen noodles, drain, toss with 6 tablespoons Ginger Scallion Sauce (below); top the bowl with 1⁄4 cup each of Bamboo Shoots (page 54); Quick-Pickled Cucumbers (page 65); pan-roasted cauliflower (a little oil in a hot wide pan, 8 or so minutes over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the florets are dotted with brown and tender all the way through; season with salt); a pile of sliced scallions; and a sheet of toasted nori. But that’s because we’ve always got all that stuff on hand. Improvise to your needs, but know that you need ginger scallion sauce on your noodles, in your fridge, and in your life. For real.
ginger scallion sauce
MAKES ABOUT 3 CUPS
21⁄2 cups thinly sliced scallions (greens and whites; from 1 to 2 large bunches)
1⁄2 cup finely minced peeled fresh ginger
1⁄4 cup grapeseed or other
11⁄2 teaspoons usukuchi (light soy sauce)
3⁄4 teaspoon sherry vinegar
3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
Mix together the scallions, ginger, oil, soy, vinegar, and salt in a bowl. Taste and check for salt, adding more if needed. Though it’s best after 15 or 20 minutes of sitting, ginger scallion sauce is good from the minute it’s stirred together up to a day or two in the fridge. Use as directed, or apply as needed.
fried (or roasted) cauliflower with fish sauce vinaigrette
Fish Sauce Vinaigrette (page 177)
2 tablespoons very thinly sliced cilantro stems, plus 1⁄2 cup cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons chopped mint
Grapeseed or other neutral oil, as needed (lots for frying, little for roasting)
4 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 head)
1⁄2 cup puffed rice tossed with
1⁄2 teaspoon grapeseed oil and
1⁄2 teaspoon shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7-spice powder)
This is one of the best Ssäm Bar dishes—a staple there since the late-night days and a fine way to dispatch either cauliflower or Brussels sprouts in season (see the variation).
There’s not too much of a story to it: we had a deep fryer, we had vegetables in season that we needed to cook, we had Tien’s fish sauce vinaigrette on hand, and we were looking for a way to use boondi, a fried chickpea snack used in Indian cooking that Tien brought with him from his days working for Gray Kunz. They all found each other, and the results were awesome. Sometimes it’s just that easy. Later we swapped out the boondi for puffed rice—which is what Rice Krispies are—seasoned with shichimi togarashi.
1. Combine the vinaigrette, cilantro stems, and mint in a bowl, and set aside.
2. To fry the cauliflower: Heat 11⁄2 inches of oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat until a deep-fry or instant-read thermometer registers 375°F. Line a plate with paper towels. Fry the cauliflower in batches that don’t crowd the pan for 4 to 5 minutes each, until the florets are golden and dotted with spots of brown. Drain on the paper towels.
To roast the cauliflower: Heat the oven to 400°F. Put the florets in a large mixing bowl, add a splash of oil—enough to coat them, start with a couple tablespoons—and toss. Spread the cauliflower out on a rimmed baking sheet (or two—you want space around the cauliflower so it roasts, not steams) and pop into the oven. After 20 to 25 minutes, the cauliflower should be browned in spots and tender. Proceed.
3. Fry the cilantro leaves. If you fried the cauliflower, you’re all set up. Make sure the leaves are dry and fry them by the handful, dropping them into the 375°F oil and agitating them with a slotted spoon or spider so they don’t clump together. Give them 5 to 10 seconds to crisp, then drain on paper towels. If you roasted the cauliflower, heat about 1 cup of oil in a small sauté pan or skillet—the oil should be 1⁄2 inch or so deep—over medium-high heat until a deep-fry or instant-read thermometer registers 375°F. Fry, stir, and drain the leaves as directed.
4. Toast the puffed rice: Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute or so, until it’s hot, then add the puffed rice. Toast, stirring occasionally, until it’s aromatic and perhaps a shade darker than it was when you added it to the pan, just a couple of minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
5. Divide the cauliflower among four bowls (or serve it all out of one big bowl), top with the dressing, and toss once or twice to coat. Sprinkle the fried cilantro and puffed rice over all, and serve. fried (or roasted) brussels sprouts with fish sauce vinaigrette This recipe works equally well with Brussels sprouts. The method is almost exactly the same. You want about 2 pounds Brussels sprouts for 4 servings, and smaller Brussels sprouts are better than bigger ones for this dish, so if you’re shopping at a market where you can pick out which you want, angle for the smaller guys. Peel away any loose or discolored outer leaves and cut the sprouts in half. If frying them, follow the instructions for frying cauliflower. Brussels sprouts will take about 5 minutes: when the outer leaves begin to hint at going black around the edges—i.e., after the sprouts have sizzled, shrunk, popped, and browned but before they burn—remove them to a paper towel–lined plate or tray. To roast them, heat 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil in an oven-safe wide skillet (12 to 14 inches) or 3-quart sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil slides easily from side to side of the pan, add the Brussels sprouts cut side down. When the cut faces of the sprouts begin to brown, transfer the pan to the oven to finish cooking, about 15 minutes. The sprouts are ready when they are tender but not soft. Proceed as above.
fish sauce vinaigrette
MAKES ABOUT 1 CUP
This stuff is totally Tien Ho, who says, “Fish sauce vinaigrette is like the ketchup and mustard and mayonnaise of Vietnam all in one. If you go into a Vietnamese family’s house and there’s not a jar of it in the fridge or out on the table, there’s something wrong. There is nothing it doesn’t go with, there is no possibility of overusing it, and there’s no chance anyone ever gets tired of it. Growing up, when we were dirt-poor, I’d get a bowl of rice and a tiny little piece of meat for dinner and then just add enough fish sauce vinaigrette on it to make every last grain of rice taste good.”
Our fish sauce vinaigrette is lighter and sweeter than whatever Tien’s ma would have made (just as our kimchi is sweeter and less fermented than my mom’s), so feel free to adjust it to your taste.
1⁄2 cup fish sauce
1⁄4 cup water
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1⁄4 cup sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 to 3 red bird’s-eye chiles, thinly sliced, seeds intact
Combine the fish sauce, water, vinegar, lime juice, sugar, garlic, and chiles in a jar. This vinaigrette will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.