Too darn hot: Cold udon with coconut, basil, mint, shrimp, and goodness.

It is hot here.

Bloody hot. Crazy hot. Run-through-the-streets-with-a-look-of-madness hot. Hot enough that I’ve been perfectly happy living on tomatoes, basil, and little else–much to Bench’s dismay. Though he is generally on board with my crazy food obsessions, it would seem there are only so many tomatoes a man can eat. And so, the other night I was faced with the explicit request to make something…well…without tomatoes. Something different.

udon

Now, having spent the whole day in a letterpress class, cool and refreshing sounded like just the ticket (in addition to different)–I was loath to engage in anything that required much by way of actual EFFORT. The idea of slaving over a hot stove made me physically ill, much in the same way a prospect of another night of tomatoes filled Bench with dread. And so, we met (more or less), in the middle–I devised something that was both non-tomato-y and required only three minutes of time in front of a heat source–AND netted some extra bonus points for using several things we already had around the house, including the mint and basil that had been languishing on the fire escape.

sauce

The dish? Udon noodles with grilled shrimp. Cold, savory, spicy, and sweet in a coconut and citrus dressing, made cool and green with basil, mint, and spinach. If I’m being honest, it’s a blatant aping of a dearly departed dish once offered at Republic in Union Square. However, amazingly, I like mine better (which is probably good, since they’ve taken theirs off the menu). The flavors actually appear to come alive once mixed, swirling and dancing on the tongue, refreshing like a cold swim on a sweltering day. Every part of the mouth wakes up, and every sense is indulged by the silky noodles, the intoxicating scent, the luscious green of the sauce.

Oh, the sauce. The sauce is so good that I’m figuring out how to turn the sauce into a cold soup.

Basically, it’s just what the doctor ordered after getting heat stroke out on the golf course–it’s easy, it’s fresh, it’s cool, it’s zippy, and it’s delicious. Throw in a nicely spiked Thai iced tea, and you’re laughing! All in all, the perfect summer dish.

Cold udon noodles with coconut, citrus, and shrimp.

The sauce
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
thumb-sized knob of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbsp fresh basil roughly chopped
2 tbsp fresh mint
juice of one lime (you’re also going to want the zest, so be sure to snag that first)
2-3 tbsp rice vinegar
8 oz coconut milk
handful spinach
salt
scant tsp brown sugar

The shrimp marinade:
3 oz coconut milk
zest of 1 lime

udon noodles, prepared as per packet instructions and chilled
4-5 shrimp per person, peeled and deveined

  1. prepare the marinade: mix the coconut milk and lime zest with a bit of salt; add the shrimp and marinate for up to two hours
  2. prepare the sauce: throw all the sauce ingredients in your food processor until it is a lovely, aromatic, green-flecked emulsion.
  3. preheat your grill (or grill pan)–grill the shrimp for about 2 minutes on each side (until they’re very pink)
  4. toss sauce with prepared udon noodles. serve with shrimp and some sort of cool, shredded vegetable.

It seriously couldn’t be any easier–but don’t tell your guests.

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