Julie Giuffrida is Test Kitchen coordinator for the Los Angeles Times.
Recipes for keeping your cool at mealtime.
In the hot summer months, I like to limit the time spent in a hot kitchen as well as the heat generated in said kitchen — not because I don’t want to cook but for fear that the air conditioner will burn itself out working to maintain a comfortable ambient temperature while battling 350- to 450-degree oven temperatures. Cold noodle dishes — full of flavor, quick and easy to make — are a grand solution.
Whether for a veggie-packed salad of sesame cold noodles with crab and crunchy vegetables or more traditional chilled soba noodles with two sauces, aim to cook the noodles while the air is cool — either early in the morning or after sundown. Even if you miss those windows, boiling water for the short time it takes to cook the noodles won’t significantly affect your indoor temperatures.
If you are feeling adventurous, homemade noodles and extra crunchy chili crisp are both easy to make and then combine beautifully to make spicy chili crisp noodles – a texture bomb and a flavor bomb all in one. Bonus: You’ll have chili crisp left over to use with all sorts of other no-cook things like rotisserie chicken, tropical fruits such as mangoes and papayas and even ice cream. Of course, store-bought chili crisp and noodles achieve pretty much the same result with much less work. No judgment here.
Soba noodles, made with buckwheat flour, are a bit more delicate than wheat noodles. You might need an extra shot of patience to make soba, but served with two sauces they make a simple, flavorful repast. Here, too, store-bought, dry noodles are perfectly acceptable and will save you some time.
In some parts of Asia, slurping is part of the noodle eating ritual, particularly with iced somen noodles, which are said to define summer eating in Japan. The ultra-thin noodles cook in just a few minutes and chill just as quickly. They are then served in ice water with ice cubes added for extra chill. A simple soy- and mirin-based dipping sauce and yakumi — Japanese herbs and condiments such as wasabi, ginger and minty shiso leaves — are traditionally served with the iced noodles.
Summer Sichuan noodles, seasoned with sweet soy sauce, black vinegar and chili oil come together quickly and easily — adding shredded chicken is optional. Kimchi soba, a culinary intersection of Korea and Japan, is also a quick fix.
For hyper-efficiency, make several meals worth of noodles to have on hand. Do the same for dressings, which take a few short moments to whisk together and can be kept, refrigerated, for several weeks. At mealtime, open the fridge, dress your noodles, toss in some condiments and you are ready to eat — cool, calm and collected. No cooking needed.
Iced somen noodles with chicken and vegetables with spicy ginger sesame sauce
Somen is served with chicken, cucumber, carrot, green pepper and a spicy ginger sesame sauce and garnished with chives, daikon radish sprouts, shiso leaves and roasted sesame seeds.
Time1 hour 45 minutes
Homemade Soba Noodles
Made with finely milled buckwheat flour, soba noodles are delicate and tender.
YieldsMakes 4 portions
Flour, salt and water roll easily into slippery, silky fresh noodles.
Spicy Chili Crisp Noodles
Savory, spicy and tangy, these Sichuan-style cold noodles are packed with flavor.
Spicy Shrimp Paste Noodles
Hot, salty and a little sweet, these noodles are intensely craveable. Angela Dimayuga takes four pantry ingredients and sizzles them into a fragrant sauce in minutes.
YieldsServes 4 to 6
Summer Sichuan noodles
Chinese dried noodles are dressed with sweet soy sauce, black vinegar and chile oil and garnished with bean sprouts, chicken and green onions.
YieldsServes 1 to 2
Chilled Soba Noodles With Two Sauces
Ground walnuts and fragrant aromatics flavor a dashi-based sauce that pairs beautifully with chilled soba.
Sesame Cold Noodles With Crab and Crunchy Vegetables
These sesame cold noodles with crab and crunchy vegetables are best made with authentic ramen, udon or soba noodles and Chinese sesame paste.
YieldsServes 4 to 6
Extra Crunchy Chili Crisp
This homemade chili crisp recipe inspired by Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp is the best condiment. It's savory, crunchy, oily, and spiced, but not too spicy.
YieldsMakes about 1 cup