More Cold Noodles As Salad!
Plus a ginger-turmeric tonic that will put the git back in your gittyup
WHEN I MADE MY RECENT tour/trot through the World Library of Korean Cold Noodles (there’s no such place), I kept brushing off one particular dish even though it seemed exactly like something I would really like. It’s basically a large platter of composed salad atop noodles. Two of my favorite things. So why wasn’t I all over it like a feral ocelot who has just spotted an iguana?
It was a dish I was not terribly familiar with and I hadn’t made it before, so I subconsciously pushed it to the back of brain, with the help of some absurd and tired excuses that allowed me to not try (and therefore, conveniently, never fail).
“Too much chopping! Look at all those julienned vegetables,” I told myself. This, in spite of the fact that I make several different kinds of salad a week, many of which not only require me to chop, slice, and julienne— my favorite activities—but have also required me to become a citizen of the 21st Century. And that’s a good thing.
I mean that I finally had to own up to the fact that in my kitchen life (and perhaps in other areas) I have always seen myself as a sort of limited American Pilgrim lady cooking over a fire with nothing but a hatchet and one spoon I brought over from England. I have often pretended that I have to do everything the hard way, as if I somehow lack the proper fishing rod to reel in any of the useful equipment and ingredients the bountiful culinary seas are roiling with all around me. (Reverse-metaphorically: This actually happened to some of the Pilgrims. Having arrived on these shores without rods or nets or fishing experience, they resorted to going after fish with frying pans. So sad! I’m obsessed with Pilgrim life.)
Of course, my self-delusion is ridiculous and lazy. We live on a planet where, for better or worse, a lot of us can get and do anything we want quite easily if we have the resources. I mean, my lord: Filthy-rich people buy rockets with their own money and shoot themselves and their friends into space for fun! Why can’t I finally learn to make dumplings?
Obviously, I’m working on a much smaller scale here. But it is only in the last decade or so that I have realized I am allowed and have the funds to purchase a decent mandoline. (I really hope you get one, too; you have to be careful with them but they’re fun and very useful to have, especially if you love vegetables). I have the means to obtain a mini food processor rather than trying to pulverize things by hand with, like, a big rock, not to mention a bullet blender for small blending jobs, as well as an actual decent full-size blender. Having turned over a new leaf, I can now tell you that a hand-held cherry pitter is a luxury you’ll never stop using when cherries are here. When I need a lot of lemon juice (which is often), I’m grateful for my lemon press, and I’m beginning to think I might be a candidate for an electric juicer of some sort!
I still don’t have a stand mixer (aside from one that remains in a storage space in Charleston, SC, along with lot of other things I left behind there over a decade ago because they reminded me of the kind of weak-willed person I used to be and that I wanted to forget; it worked). I’ll probably never buy one of those expensive pizza ovens that the cool food people brag about, although I’d love to use yours if you get one. I don’t require the world’s most expensive chef’s knife, but I wouldn’t mind replacing my serviceable plastic-handled set, one of which I melted on the stove. And I don’t even know what in the hell this thing is. If you come to my kitchen and I’m using one of these, you have my permission to end the friendship.
But I did have practically everything I needed to make the salad I mentioned way above, before I brought you into this personal therapy session about how I get in my own way and think it’s somehow noble when I do. I had to MacGyver a few ingredients, but otherwise it ended up being a breeze.
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