If you have never tried this dish, then you are not living life to its fullest. My mother and I discovered this dish years ago at a health food store in Memphis TN. It was part of a fondly remembered Saturday morning trip we took every few weeks. We’d get up early and go to a bakery that made chocolate cherry bread, a bread so popular they’d sell out in an hour or two of opening and only made for the weekend. And it was an old style peasant bread, heavy, dark cocoa colored and thick, with warm chunks of bitter sweet chocolate and dried cherries. served warm with butter, it was sheer ambrosia for the chocolate dependent. Yes, duplicating that recipe is on my list, never fear.
After that we’d hit the health food store, pick up some sushi if they had some fresh made and a quarter pound of cashew noodle salad. Served cold, it was rich and creamy with bits of chopped cashews, buckwheat somen noodles and hot pepper. It’s best when it’s just hot enough to make you tear up. I can’t eat it that hot anymore, because my lips now puff up like I’ve been stung by a bee, but if you like hot food, try it hot. If not, it’s still wonderful without the heat.
3.5 teaspoons peanut oil
4 teaspoons sesame oil
2 Tablespoons plus 1.5 teaspoons tamari soy sauce (If you are sensitive to salt, then use light soy sauce, it works fine)
3 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cashew butter
1/2 buckwheat somen cooked, rinsed in cold water
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3.5 Tablespoons unsalted cashews chopped
1/4 cup green onions or chives.
fresh ground pepper to taste
*I have made some modifications to this recipe for various reasons which I’ll explain with the pictures. I would also like to note that this recipe does not list salt. That’s because there is plenty in the soy sauce, and you can always add salt, but you can never take it away if you add too much.
In a small saucepan combine oils, soy sauce and cashew butter.
Warm on low heat and stir until it all melts together. It might look like gritty, but that’s fine, that happens with mine because my cashew butter isn’t as finely smoothed as peanut butter is.
Set the pan aside and chop the nuts, or you can do what I do and just smash them up in a ziplock bag with the butt of a knife.
Add the somen noodles, chopped nuts, pepper flakes (I only use 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of the pepper) and onions to the cashew paste in the pan. Mix until well combined and the noodles are well coated.
If you want a lower calorie option or if you are going for gluten free, grain free or any other variant on that theme, then try kelp noodles. I found them at my local health food store and while they are a bit stiff and odd fresh out of the package, a night in the cashew mixture fixed that right up and they were delightfully tasty. Using them reduced the calories per 1/4 batch from 440 to 255, so that was quite a win. While I do love buckwheat somen, this recipe doesn’t suffer from the loss because you don’t really taste the somen, you taste the cashews.
Put the whole thing in the fridge and let it sit over night. You can try some fresh, but it’s a let down and really needs that time to let the flavors meld and it’s better cold by far.