Thursday, October 01, 2009

Udon Noodle Salad with Grilled Chicken and Asian Dressing (Page 247)

RECIPE #1032

  • Date: Saturday, September 19, 2009 -- 12pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B-

I made this noodle salad for lunch several weekends ago. To start I marinated chicken breasts in a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and rice vinegar. Then I cooked the chicken breasts on the stove in a grill pan. When they were cool, I cut them into thin slices. Meanwhile, I cooked udon noodles in boiling water, then drained and rinsed them. To make the dressing I combined chicken stock, cilantro, parsley, vegetable oil, and soy sauce, and brought it to a simmer. Then I pureed the dressing and stirred in rice vinegar and sesame oil. I tossed the noodles with the dressing and topped with chicken, scallions, and cilantro leaves. This salad was fine, but not great. The marinade gave the chicken some good flavor, which was complemented well by the char from the grill pan. The udon noodles were also very tasty (I do love noodles!). My real issue was with the dresing. I had two problems with it: one, the texture, and two, the flavor. The dressing was extremely thin and brothy. There was no body to it, so it didn't have a good mouthfeel at all. And the flavor was completely dominated by the vinegar. The lovely flavor of the cilantro was completely drowned out by vinegar flavor. Even the sesame oil (which has a strong flavor) couldn't make itself heard past the loud drum of the vinegar. I would have vastly preferred this salad with a different dressing. As it was it was only ok.

The recipe in The Book is very similar to this one, but the one in The Book includes soy sauce and sesame oil while the one online does not.

When I was in high school I took some math classes at the local university (UW-Madison). I was always a very respectful student when I was a kid. I listened in class. I never fell asleep. I never whispered with other students while the teacher was talking. But suddenly I was in a huge college lecture, with hundreds of students, and the professor was standing on a stage in front. He seemed so tiny up there, so far away. It didn't seem possible that he would even know if I whispered with my neighbor. A good friend of mine was in the class with me, and she and I occasionally did whisper. Sometimes we whispered about the calculus lesson -- sometimes about other things. We were both good students, doing well in the course, and it never occured to me that the whispering could possibly be bothering anyone. Then one day, a student down the row from us turned to us in the middle of class and said, in a not-so-whispery voice, "Will you just stop talking?!" I felt horrible. I suppose that much is clear since this incident took place 12 years ago and I remember it still. In fact, I feel bad about it still.

Today I was standing in front of my afternoon class, looking out at my 250 students, and waiting for them to stop whispering. That class alternates between being very well behaved and very badly behaved. Today it finally occured to me what determines it. On Thursdays we have quizzes, so almost everyone comes -- including the students who don't think they need to be there. On Tuesdays there are no quizzes, so the people who come are the people who actually want to hear me teach the material. On Tuesdays they are like little angels, taking notes, participating, etc... On Thursdays they whisper and whisper and whisper. If I stop talking for more than 5 seconds, say, to take a sip of water, or erase a board, they start whispering. At 5pm on a Thursday I am never really in the mood to deal with their whispering, and today I was definitely losing my patience. When they start talking, I just watch them in silence and wait for them to stop. This method works, although I feel that I shouldn't have to do it. As I stood there today, staring at them and waiting for silence so I could go on, I wondered if perhaps this was payback. My calculus professor never let on that he even noticed the whispering. But he did. Now I know that he did. The whispers, they carry all the way to that person standing in the front. And even though he never stopped and stared us down, I am sure he was bothered.

All these years I have felt bad about that incident. But I only felt bad for those students near me, who I was disturbing. Now, I know better. Now I feel bad for the professor more than anyone. He was the one standing in the front trying to impart wisdom, trying to be heard. And I was that kid in the back, whispering. That kid drives me crazy, and I if I could go back, I would definitely do things differently.


Melissa Bach Palladino said...

Hey there--this from Katrina Kruse--

Hi Melissa,

I am enjoying reading about your escapades!

I am sorry about the Teena thing. She never got back to me when the original call went out - maybe my email never made it to her. If you can can get her in touch with me I will try to get Ruth to send her a copy of the book. (barring that I will send her a copy with a signed bookplate inside)



(her email is

Go for it! :-)

Teena said...

Thanks Melissa for passing along that message! I emailed her, so maybe I will get a copy of the new book after all!

Thanks again!