Ok, it's been a while ago but at the end of May I went to London to meet up with two close friends, we had traveled together through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and India two years ago but hadn't seen each other for ages. It only took about 2 min and we were back to our normal chatting, tea and cake routine! We had a great weekend full of shopping food and musea starting on Friday with Portobello road, books for cooks and the spice shop (a true treasure trove). Books for cooks was amazing, first we had lunch in their cafe part, then I spent about 2 hours browsing (whist the girls were chatting) and they had to stop me from buying too much as I had to carry it all back in the handluggage. On the way back, we stopped for afternoon tea (we were in britain after all) at the Tea Palace. It was amazing, I had lovely kuchicha tea with an almond and blood syrup cake with Chai Masala ice cream. It was lovely, moist from the syrup and crumbly from the almonds. The ice cream was rich, creamy but not too sweet. After this, we went back to Sharon's flat where she cooked us our favourtite dinner, potstickers and buddah's delight.
On Saterday we went to Borough market, again the buying had to be stopped due to weight restrictions but we did sample lots of nice things. Then we walked along the Thames to the Tate modern, spent a few hours in there and visited the Japan centre where I stocked up on lots of foodstuffs that I just can't get here. In the evening we reminised about our travels over a great Vietnamese meal at Cay Tre (301 Old Street, London). We had many old favourites, fresh spring rolls, Bun Cha and Fish in Caramel sauce that came complete with flaming plate!
Sunday morning, we said hello to the dinosaur at thenatural history museum, visited the V&A where we saw the Kylie exhibition. This was great fun, lots of dancy happy music, nice costumes and more, which was just what we needed as we were getting a bit tired with all the trips. Had lunch in their beautiful cafe, walked past Harrods, Harvey Nicks and met up with other friends at a great wine bar. Finally we had a quiet night in and went to bed early as we had to get up at 5 to catch our planes. All in all a great weeked and I came back with lots of nice foodies to eat. One of them were these beautiful pink somen noodles. The first time I had these was when I was living in Japan taking a cooking class with Elisabeth Andoh in Tokyo. It was a focus on cold noodles for the hot summer and these were one of them. As the weather picked up drasticaly this weekend it was the perfect opportunity to make them. The dipping sauce is very easy to make, keeps well and can be used for all sorts of things. We enjoyed them on the balcony with their dipping accompaniments (the shiso were the first harvest from the balcony)...but as i was telling Barry, now that they're finished I just might have to go back to London to get some more :-)
Thin noodles on Ice serves 4
For the sauce
3 tbsp seasoned soy concentrate (see below) thinned with 1/2 cup dashi (also see below)
200g thin noodles
For the condiments:
1 tsp peeled and grated ginger
4-5 shiso leaves, finely shredded
2 tbsp freshly toasted white sesame seeds, coarsly ground
Bring a large pan of water to the boil but leave room for more. When boiling, add a cup of water and repeat this step. Test if the noodles are cooked. Drain and rinse them under cold water. Place ice cubes in a bowl. Put the noodles on top and add water till they are barely floating. Divide the sauce over 4 small, deep bowls and add condiments to your liking. Lift noodles out of the ice water, then dunk them briefly in the condiments and sauce mix before slurping them.
Seasoned soy concentrate makes about 2/3 cup
5-6 large iriko (dried small sardines)
8-10 square inches kombu (preferably a high glutamate variety)
1 dried shiitake mushroom or stems from 3-4 mushrooms
1/4 cup dried thick bonito flakes or 1/2 cup tightly packed katsuo-bushi (fine bonito flakes)
2/3 cup soy
1/3 cup sake
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp water
2 tbsp mirin
Remove the black internal organs of the fish. Place iriko, kombu shiitake, kombu, bonito (only think ones, if using fine ones add later) and sake in a small deep saucepan and leave to infuse for 1-24 hours. Add the sugar, water, mirin to the pan and place over low heat. When the liquid begins to boil, reduce the heat to keep it from boiling too vigorously. As the sauce simmers, it becomes quite foamy, rising in the saucepan. Keep from overflowing and reduce by about 1/4 till it becomes syrupy. Remove from the heat and if using the fine bonito flakes scatter them into the pan now. Wait 2-3 min for them to sink, thin strain the liquid through a paper lined strainer. Reserve the solids and leave the concentrate to cool naturally, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 month. Put the soy-drenched bits of kombu, fish and mushroom into a pan with 2-3 cups of cold water, bring rapidly to the boil, strain immediately and discard the solids. This will make the dashi.