Monday, April 11, 2011

Loophole Yoshoku prawn noodle salad

I made an informal resolution this year to NOT buy any more cookbooks than was absolutely necessary. There are a couple of ‘loopholes’ in this statement and it all comes down to definitions. What is an informal resolution? What year are we talking about (calendar year, financial year, druids’ lunar phase)? How do you define ‘absolutely necessary’ – a cooking emergency can occur at any time, and there are many, many times when a cookbook purchase has been a veritable lifesaver, your Honour.

So I see this book, ’Yoshoku, Contemporary Japanese’ by Jane Lawson, at the book store. Further investigation reveals that Yoshoku is where Western cuisine is adapted in a way to make it Japanese. The book is full of beautifully styled settings (always a gold star in my opinion) and intriguing dishes like corn potage and potato salad, but with a Japanese twist. I also noticed that the book was first published in 2005 although the publishers have plonked a new cover on this edition.

After a couple of days of reassessing my resolution-setting methodology and finding it lacking, I order the book online and it arrives 2 weeks later (I know, it would have been quicker to just buy it locally, but I’m scrimping). While the book is great to browse, I’ve found that there aren’t that many recipes I actually want to make. I settled on this chilled prawn and cucumber noodle salad, and it turned out lovely – easy to make, and some of it can be prepared ahead of time. It also sent me on a mission to stock up on ingredients like wakame and seven-spice pepper, so it looks like I’ll be cooking more Yoshoku dishes soon.

Resolution: ‘I informally resolve to cook another dish from Yoshoku before the end of the year’.
Please be my witness!

Chilled prawn and cucumber noodle salad
Serves 2

200g cooked medium prawns, peeled and deveined
1 Lebanese cucumber
1 tblsp dried wakame (seaweed) pieces
100g soba noodles
Seven-spice mix, to serve [seven-spice mix is a combination of togarashi red chilli pepper and other ingredients like sesame seeds, nori or mustard]

½ tsp dashi granules
1/3 cup Japanese rice vinegar
¼ cup mirin
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp sesame oil

1. For the cucumber: Halve the cucumber lengthways, scoop out the seeds, then use a vegetable peeler to cut into long, thin strips. Put into a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave for 10 minutes, then rinse and squeeze out as much water as possible. Chill in the refrigerator.

2. For the wakame: Soak the wakame pieces in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. It should be rehydrated and glossy, but not mushy. Drain and refrigerate.

3. For the dressing: Mix the dashi granules with 1 tablespoon of hot water and stir until dissolved. Add the rice vinegar, mirin, soy sauce, ginger, sugar and sesame oil, then mix until combined. Chill.

4. For the noodles: Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, then add the soba noodles. Boil on medium heat for 4 minutes, then drain and rinse well with cold water. Drain again.

5. To serve: Combine the noodles, prawns, cucumber and wakame and toss with the dressing. Sprinkle with seven-spice mix before serving.

Recipe adapted from Yoshoku by Jane Lawson

Tabitha cat models the new cover of Yoshoku

Ingredients, including dried wakame, rice wine vinegar, mirin, dashi granules and 7-spice pepper.
The teacups are not used for anything- I thought they looked cute!

The various stages of wakame seaweed reconstitution, from dried black bits to chewy green seaweedy bits.

Gratuitous shot of uncooked soba noodles with f2.8 depth of field.

A beautifully light salad that is so easy to prepare.

The seven-spice adds a little heat to the dish and also provides a flash of fluoro orange colour!


  1. Aww Tabatha is just too cute. As for the noodles, yummo!

  2. Haha Tabatha cat goes so well with the book. It looks so tasty! So colourful and vibrant. Im quite partial to prawns.
    Cant wait for the next recipe from the book :)

  3. i have heard good things about the cookbook! Now I have your words, too. :) beautiful dish!

  4. Hehe looks like Tabitha endorses it! Yurrrm.

    I’ll be ya witness!

  5. Haha most of the time I feel that way about this urge to hoard cook books that I never got around to it ;) I guess I'm not alone! I love how you style the bowl so carefully, twirling and setting the noodle strands! Argh I can imagine mine would just be an awful mess!

  6. Love your book model ;)
    Now that I think of it, I can be quite the cookbook hoarder (rather than actually using them to cook from...)

  7. Ever since I started my blog, the number of cookbooks on my bookshelf is growing fast. I am sure you will enjoy your latest cook book and can't wait to see more dishes coming out from there. Looks like your food photos are more interesting than the one on the cover.

  8. I had a look at that book too simply just to enjoy the gorgeous photos. I think I actually have only made less than 1% of any book's recipes, the rest of it is pure fantasising!

  9. Yoshoku is such an interesting area of Japanese cuisine. I still find Japanese curries such a thick sweet contrast to so much else in their cuisine, but perhaps this is half the appeal!

    I like your delicate noodle-rolling too!

  10. Ohhh, this looks delicous! So light, yet I guess the spice and flavours mean it would really pack a punch! I crave this kind of thing in the hot weather!xxxx

  11. Now for this second resolution...which year are we talking about? I just think we should define our terms before we end up with a similar fiasco :P

    The dish looks delicious! I especially love the sound of that sauce.

  12. Yum, Bel! I love noodle salads, and this one looks amazing-wish I could have had some;-) Ooh, and I have a total cookbook addiction too, though I am fully treated and through therapy on that one (smile)...
    Hope you're doing well, my friend.
    Stella Witch

  13. Those shrimps looking so pretty pretty among the cucumbers and noodles. This is such a perfect treat for Spring:)

  14. Gorgeous! and also easy recipe. Love your presentation and all the steps that lead you to this delicious dish.

  15. oooo la la!!! your dishes always look so homey and comforting.. i will def be book marking this for when im in the states.. hopefully they will have a good and ready selection of jap ingredients avaliable!

  16. The salad looks so nice...I love the kitty shot..

  17. Wow, this is very inspiring. :) I love love love shrimps! I might just try to make this later ;) Thanks for sharing the recipe. :D

  18. Haha glad to hear that there is a loophole in your resolution which of course is necessary-in case of emergency! :P

  19. I love japanese style cold noodle/fish salads like this. I'm the same though - lusting after a recipe book - and finding actually there's nothing in there I want to cook. (Jamie's Thirty Minute Meals is my latest example). Well, I will look forward to reading you next recipe from this book. All the best, KG.

  20. Great post and pics! We have a kitty backed food blog also

  21. Prawns with noodles/pasta is definately a winner hey?? ;) And Ryan actually picked up a couple of packets of soba yesterday, might have to nudge this recipe his way for inspiration! And I think Tabitha makes a great model =)

  22. Ooh yes I like this recipe. I thus approve of your purchase, and you should not feel any guilt whatsoever. Ta-da!

    You're welcome :D

    P.S. You've clearly made Tabitha's day with this purchase too. She looks positively bursting with excitement.

  23. Ahaha, I've oft made many informal resolutions of a similar nature! Usually involves shoes or handbags for me... I did give up buying cookbooks for a few good years but seem to have, ahem, started up again =p