January 25 is this year’s date for the Chinese New Year. Unlike the Western countries, China uses a lunar based calendar. That means the start of the year changes depending on complex calculations where the 29.5-day lunar months and the 365.25-day solar year interact.
One of the more familiar Asian foods you’ve probably eaten at one time or another is ramen noodles. Incredibly cheap, easy to make, and filling. The nice thing about ramen noodles is they make a good basis for lots of other foods. When my husband and I get Chinese take-out we often have leftovers. These bits and pieces are easily extended to another meal by making ramen noodles and adding the leftovers on top.
Before I go any further, I have to say that instant ramen noodles were developed in 1958 in Japan, not China. But like chop suey (a dish originated in New York City in 1896) these instant noodles are inescapably associated with China in the American subconscious.
Ramen noodles have been so popular (especially among dorm-living college students) that there are recipe books dedicated to this as the basis for just about every kind of dish you could imagine. In that spirit, I am providing here a recipe I’ve used and enjoyed for many years.
Recently we had some good friends over and served this with the meal. Afterward the wife confessed to me that when she saw the salad, she wasn’t at all sure about tasting it. But like a good guest she did – and discovered it was rather good. Here’s the recipe for you to make as you celebrate Chinese New Year.
- 1 3 -ounce package of ramen noodles (Oriental or chicken flavor)
- 4 cups shredded Chinese cabbage (may substitute regular cabbage)
- 2-3 green onions
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons salad oil
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup slivered almonds
- Heat 4 cups of water to boiling. Meanwhile take the ramen noodle package and place it on a hard surface. Without opening the package take the palm of your hand and press down on the noodles to break them up. Open the bag and pour the broken noodles into a sieve suspended over the sink. Remove the flavor packet and reserve for later.
- Pour the boiling water slowly over the noodles in the sieve. This will soften but not fully cook the noodles.
- While the noodles are cooling, combine the contents of the flavor packet with the seasonings (sesame seeds through salt) in a salad cruet or screw top jar. Shake to mix thoroughly.
- Now dice the cabbage and green onions and place in a salad bowl. Add the cooling noodles and stir to loosen the noodles and combine with the greens. Pour the salad dressing over everything and stir well. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving with slivered almonds sprinkled on top.