by Kate Heyhoe
Noodles satisfy. All over the world, noodles fulfill in their simplicity and excite in their diversity. Noodles are perhaps the world's most universal comfort food.
In her book Asian Noodles: Deliciously Simple Dishes to Twirl, Slurp and Savor, Nina Simonds explores the wide range of noodles and their treatments in the many cultures of the Far East—Thailand's crispy fried cellophane noodles; Japan's soba noodles, rich in buckwheat; Singapore's delicate rice sticks in curry sauce...the assortment beckons me into the kitchen to boil them up and slurp them down.
Asian noodles fit the long hot days of summer well. They cook up quickly, are light on the belly and complement perfectly the flavors of the season: cold shrimp, tangy lime, fresh basil and mint leaves, crunchy cucumbers, crisp green onions.
The book Asian Noodles actually came out in 1997, but it's such an inspiring tome, I wanted to revisit it here with the heat of the season in mind. Too often good cookbooks flash brightly when released but fall to the shadows in just weeks. This book deserves better.
Emphatically not a compendium or anthology of all noodle dishes in the Far East, Asian Noodles is, as the author describes, "a selected gathering of what I consider the best and most accessible dishes." Simonds recommends starting with these, her favorites, then improvising and experimenting on your own. She even charts out appropriate Italian pasta substitutes for traditional noodles of the Orient.
"Whatever dishes you do prepare," writes Simonds, "don't be afraid to show your enthusiasm by slurping your noodles as the Japanese do. Asian noodle dishes, with their fresh ingredients and light sauces, not only are healthy and delicious, but they impart a wish of longevity to those who devour them."
Deliciously Simple Dishes to Twirl, Slurp, and Savor
by Nina Simonds
Photographs by Christopher Hirsheimer
Hearst Books, an Affiliate of William Morrow & Company, Inc.
1997, Hardcover, US $21.00
Recipes & photos reprinted by permission
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