Umami. This is how you say it: ooo-mommy. Umami is that perfect flavor of salty and savory. But it’s more than that. No one talked about umami when I was growing up in Iowa. We didn’t know about it. All I knew was that when I discovered soy sauce I was in love. I doused it on every chance I could get. It’s the reason I stopped finally stopped crying when my mom would tell us stir-fry was for dinner. Soy sauce was definitely overused and abused by me. Umami is also that flavor of slow roasted tomatoes, roasted so long that every flavor is intensified until it tastes like a tomato in heaven. Umami is that flavor that is left in the pan after you sear meat, or make gravy, chicken piccata with lots of salt and lemon, and it has been sitting in the pan the entire length of dinner. Then, you act like you’re going to go do the dishes but instead quickly touch for a taste with your finger and hope no one saw you. THAT flavor.
This recipe combines ingredients to create an umami noodle with lots of credit to Southeast Asian flavors. I’m using rice noodles but you could use linguini if you want to. I’m also topping the dish with watermelon radish. Watermelon radish looks like a watermelon on the inside and tastes like a radish. See:
umami rice noodles
serves 2 over eaters (me) or 4 sensible eaters
- 12 oz. rice noodles
- high heat oil such as avocado oil
- 2 teaspoons-1 tablespoon hot chili oil (This is spicy and you can find it in the Asian section)
- 1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
- 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce ( I like San-J brand, organic, gluten-free, 100% whole soy)
- 2 Tablespoon natural smooth peanut butter
- 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3 green onions (thinly sliced, white and green parts seperated)
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger (peeled and finely minced) You can also use 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger instead.
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground Sichuan peppercorns plus more for garnish (use white pepper or even black pepper instead)
- 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts (chopped)
- 1 big handful of cilantro (chopped)
- 1 lime (quartered)
- 1 watermelon radish (sliced into thin matchsticks)
- 1 thai chile pepper or serrano pepper for garnishing (but only if you like things extra spicy)
- Course sea salt
- Wash, dry, and prep your ingredients.
- Get a medium-large pot of water on the stove over high heat.
- Slice and separate the green onions
- peel and mince the ginger if you’re using fresh
- chop up the peanuts and cilantro
- quarter your lime
- peel and slice your watermelon radish into matchsticks. Put them all in separate little bowls and feel organized.
- When your water comes to a boil, add some salt and the rice noodles.
- Boil for the amount of time indicated on the package.
- While those are cooking, combine the sugar, soy sauce, peanut butter, chili oil, and rice vinegar in a bowl. Mix until combined.
- Drain the rice noodles, rinse with cold water to prevent sticking and to stop the cooking process.
- In the same pot used to cook the noodles, put a little high heat oil in the bottom. I like coconut or avocado oil. Heat it up but don’t let it start smoking.
- Add the white parts of the green onion, ginger and ground pepper, season with salt. Cook for only about 1 minute.
- Then add your sauce and simmer for about 5 minutes until slightly reduced. Reducing helps the umami factor. You want things to intesify!
- Add the rice noodles to the pot and toss, toss, toss to combine. After everything is thoroughly combined, and heated through, it’s time to serve it up. I like to serve it in a deep, wide bowl.
- Garnish your noodles with the watermelon radish, cilantro, peanuts, a wedge of lime, green parts on the green onion, thai chili pepper and or hot chili oil (if using), more ground pepper, and just a pinch of extra course sea salt.