build your own noodle bowl

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We love spending these balmy, late summer evenings outside sharing laughs and wine with friends. We decided this noodle bar would be a great choice because it is served cold and has so many elements that are easy to personalize. For sides we did a simple cucumber & radish salad and marinated cherry tomatoes. We also tempura fried some broccoli and green beans because we're extra like that. 

 

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noodles

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Obviously, to have a successful noodle bar, you need top notch Asian noodles. For this menu, we chose soba noodles, which are made from buckwheat and are naturally gluten-free. Using another type of Asian noodle like ramen or udon would work well, too. We wanted to do a cold noodle dish since we knew we would be eating outside on a warm evening. An added bonus: you can make the noodles a few hours ahead and keep in the fridge until you're ready to serve. After cooking your noodles according to package instructions, immediately rinse your noodles in cold water, drain, and put in the fridge. 

 

 
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Toppings

The toppings are where you can really get creative. Here's some of the toppings we chose:

  • sliced fresh jalapeños

  • chopped cilantro

  • julienned carrots

  • thinly sliced grilled flank steak

  • sliced green onions

  • peanuts

  • Sriracha

  • snap peas

  • edamame

  • sliced watermelon radish

  • thinly sliced purple cabbage, raw or sautéed.

Some other items you could add: Thai basil, sautéed mushrooms, water chestnuts, cashews, broccoli, bok choy, and Napa cabbage.

Tofu, shrimp, and grilled chicken would be good additions for more protein.

 

ginger peanut sauce

This sauce is great for drizzling over your noodle bowl and dipping some tempura fried veggies. It really helps to tie this whole meal together. 

  • ¼ cup of smooth peanut butter

  • 2 tsp sesame oil

  • 1 Tbsp coconut aminos (or soy)

  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

  • 1 tsp Sriracha (you can add more or less depending on your preferred spice level)

  • juice of ½ lime

  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, grated

  • 1 small clove of garlic, grated

  • pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together. If sauce consistency is too thick, you can add a few drops of lime juice or rice wine vinegar until you get the consistency you like. If sauce is too runny, add more peanut butter.

Makes 4 servings.

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cucumber & radish salad

This salad is so simple and refreshing, making it the perfect choice during the hot summer months. 

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  • 2 cucumbers, peeled into thin ribbons, discarding the center & seeds

  • sliced watermelon radish or any type of radish

  • cilantro

  • sesame seeds

Sesame ginger vinaigrette

  • ¼ cup of rice wine vinegar

  • 1 tsp sesame oil

  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp of coconut aminos

  • 2 tsp honey

  • ½ to 1 tsp salt

  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, grated

  • 1 clove of fresh garlic, grated

Place cucumber ribbons and sliced radish into a bowl. Whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients, and toss with cucumbers and radishes. Top with chopped cilantro and sesame seeds.

Makes 4 servings.

 

 

 

 

marinated Cherry tomatoes

Salty and savory, these cherry tomatoes marinated in coconut aminos will really complement the rest of this meal. 

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  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved crosswise

  • 2 Tbsp coconut aminos

  • 2 tsp sesame oil

  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar

  • ½ tsp honey

  • basil

  • pepper

Mix coconut aminos, sesame oil, vinegar, and honey. Add the cherry tomatoes and gently toss to coat. Sprinkle fresh cracked pepper and basil on top.

Makes 4 servings.

 

Tempura fried veggies

While definitely a labor of love, we think these fried vegetables are totally worth it. Tempura batter is very easy to make and yields a texture that is both light and crispy. We chose to use broccoli and green beans, but you could also fry mushrooms, zucchini, or Japanese eggplant. The key to your vegetables is just to make sure you cut them into slightly smaller than bite-sized pieces. 

For Frying: 

  • 4-6 cups of oil with a high smoke point like Canola

For the batter:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 Tbsp corn starch

  • 1 ½ cups cold club soda (it's important that your club soda is very cold!)

  • salt

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Veggies:

  • 1 cup of fresh green beans, rinsed & trimmed

  • 2 cups of broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets

First start by heating your oil in a dutch oven. If you don't have a dutch oven, use a heavy bottomed pan with high sides. Add 3 inches of oil to the pan and heat to 350 degrees over medium-high flame, or until shimmering.

While your oil is heating, mix the batter ingredients together in a large bowl. Drop a handful of vegetables into the batter at a time and coat well. Then CAREFULLY drop a few veggies at a time into the oil. (We used a slotted spoon to lower them safely into the oil-filled pot.)

Let the vegetables do their thang in the oil for a couple minutes, or until they have turned a nice, golden brown. Then remove them from the oil and place on a paper towel to drain. Sprinkle salt on top. 

Continue working in batches until you've fried all of your vegetables. 

Dip in plain soy sauce or in our ginger peanut sauce.

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Drinks

For drinks, we wanted to keep it simple since there are so many small components to this meal. We had rosé, white wine, and cold sake. 

A sake cocktail would go really nicely with this meal. Here is a link to a Food & Wine article that has some good ideas!

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