June 17, 2012

Cucumber and Mango Sunomono Salad with Rice Noodles


Sunomono (pronounced SOO-noh-moh-noh) is the Japanese word for "vinegared things". A Sunomono salad generally refers to raw vegetables marinated or pickled in rice vinegar (su), but may also include seafood, meat, or poultry. The most common sort of Sunomono salad is one made simply with cucumbers and bay shrimp often served in Japanese restaurants. I have always loved how this little salad is so refreshing, crisp, and tangy. With this recipe, I have added rice noodles, additional vegetables, fresh soft herbs, and mango to stretch the flavors into a more substantial meal or side dish.

The fresh mint and cilantro add an extra punch of nutrition to this dish. Herbs are used to add life, flavor, and embellish to so many dishes, but the health benefits they posses often go unrecognized. Mint is best known for its ability to aid in digestion and soothe an upset stomach, but it is also loaded with Vitamin C and beta carotene. It has potential as a cancer fighting food as it contains a phytonutrient called perillyl alcohol (also in cherries) which has has been shown to stall the growth of pancreatic, liver, colon, and mammary tumors in labs. Cilantro is also helpful to the digestive system as it has oils that stimulate the production of digestive enzymes, as well for helping to relieve feelings of nausea. It is effectively used as a natural cleansing agent to help remove heavy metals from the body. Cilantro has chemical compounds that bind to heavy metals in tissues and organs, and these compounds help to transport them out through elimination. Additionally, cilantro has both anti inflammatory and anti bacterial benefits.

Served cold, this is a great salad to enjoy during the summer months. It would be perfect served on a bed or in a cup of butter lettuce leaves with sliced avocado and topped with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.

Cucumber and Mango Sunomono Salad with Noodles
Serves 6-8
For all of the ingredients, please use only those that are organic or pesticide free.
7-8 ounces Maifun noodles
  (Asian rice stick noodles similar in size to angel hair pasta. White and brown rice noodles are available. I have found that the white rice noodles are less likely to break into smaller lengths)
4 persian cucumbers, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, quartered, and thinly sliced
1/2-1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 mango peeled and diced (sliced is fine too)
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated or minced
1 lime zested
1/2 cup cilantro leaves (small amount of stem is fine), roughly chopped
1/2 cup mint leaves, chiffonade
2-3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup brown rice vinegar
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup, agave nectar, or sugar
  (if using a seasoned rice vinegar, it may not be necessary)
splash tamari soy sauce
Put the noodles into a large bowl. Cover them with boiling water and leave them for 5-10 minutes to soften. Drain the softened noodles into a colander and run cold water over them. Drizzle with about a tablespoon of the sesame oil and use your hands to distribute the oil over the noodles to prevent them from sticking together. Set aside or refrigerate.
In another large bowl, combine the prepared vegetables, mango, herbs, and zest.
In a small bowl whisk the vinegar, remaining sesame oil, mirin, syrup, and soy sauce together.
Add the dressing to the vegetables and toss to incorporate fully.
Add the dressed vegetables to the noodles and use your hands to toss them together as best as you are able.
Serve or refrigerate until using.
When serving, use a fork and large spoon to remove the noodles from the bowl and top with vegetables that did not mix in.


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Categories: Gluten Free, Pasta & Risotto, Salads, Spring & Summer, Vegan Entrees

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