When I eat something AMAZING that someone else has prepared, and I am lucky enough to get the recipe out of them, I count myself fortunate indeed. This happened on a foggy night in November, in the fellowship hall of a Korean church following a concert. The dish was humble in appearance, just your typical cold noodle salad. It was, however, the best I had ever eaten, and the cook readily shared her recipe. The noodles were a brownish-purple hue and had an appealing chewy-springy texture. “Those are Soba noodles, aren’t they?” “No, Acorn flour noodles.” I had heard of these elusive Acorn flour noodles in Korean cuisine but had never seen them. “Can I buy them at the Korean grocery?” “No.” “Where can I buy them?” “We bring them from Korea”. . . . Nonsense, I thought, and Googled them to find a source from which to purchase. My search came up empty; it seems Korean women get them from someone else in church. I pictured a drug cartel distribution system, except they were trafficking Korean noodles. Deflated, I added this to the list of things I would never make (along with Thomas Keller’s Oysters and Pearls).
So when Mrs. Suh brought me a whole BOX of dried Acorn Noodles, sourced from a lady in her church, I was over the moon. I finally got to try my hand, and the dish was perfect, and very easy. Once you get the noodles. And no, I am not sharing.
Acorn Noodle Salad:
1 pound Acorn Flour Noodles, from your Korean church lady friend. Boil in UNSALTED water (my uncooked noodles are pretty salty) until just al dente, about 3-4 minutes. immediately rinse under cold water to stop cooking process, and let drain.
Dressing: Mix together 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar, 6 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, 1/2 tsp wasabe paste. Whisk together.
Pour dressing over noodles (you will have some leftover, don’t overdress) and gently mix together. Place noodles on large serving platter and place several handfuls of spring mix lettuce on top. Here’s a not-so-great photo:
But this is a Dumpling site. So—Moving on to far more accessible tasks, it was time to try the Cheesecake Factory’s Avocado Egg Rolls. Thanks to modern technology, such recipes are easily found on line. These were a breeze to make, as long as you don’t mind deep frying. I deep fry in my flat bottomed wok, and actually only put about an inch of oil in the pan, adding more as needed. Just fry one side and turn it over when golden brown. I used 6 smallish avocados and made 20 rolls. These would have been better if I’d been more generous with this filling because you want to have lots of tasty creamy filling to offset the crunchy outside. In addition, I had 13 leftover wrappers and fortunately had some frozen vegan mushroom/onion/potato filling leftover from a previous dumpling. Those were good too. Actually, anything you put in a spring roll wrapper and deep fry is, well, fried.
The Dipping Sauce is The Bomb. Very easy, just throw everything in the blender and you’re done.
Cheesecake Factory Avocado Egg Rolls
Green Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon tamarind pulp –I did not have this so added a little lemon juice.
1/4 cup honey–I halved the amount from original recipe (1/2 cup) because it was way too sweet.
1 pinch turmeric
1/2 cup chopped cashews
2/3 cup fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves
2 green onions , washed and ends trimmed, white and green parts, cut into 2 inch length
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Whirl all of the above together in a blender. Taste it. It might need more lemon juice if too sweet. This sauce has retained its vibrant green color in my fridge for 3 days now, so I can safely say it can be made in advance.
1 pack Menlo Spring Roll wrappers (you will not use all 33. To use them all, Make more filling, or wrap up some other interesting leftovers from the fridge)
6 medium to large avocados—should make about 20
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
2 tablespoon minced red onion
2 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of one half lemon
½ tsp salt
Cut avocados in half, remove pit.
with the tip of a knife, crosshatch/dice avocado down to the peel, in the shell, then scoop out flesh with a spoon.
Gently mix avocado, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lemon juice, and salt together. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Scoop filling into wrappers, roll (see previous post for instructions) and seal with beaten egg.
Deep fry till golden brown.
Serve with dipping sauce.
These tasted just like the restaurant’s, except I forgot to deep fry the little crispy white noodles. alas alack.
Note the skimpy filling in photo below. next time be more generous!