For the past week or so, a high pressure system has been sitting just northeast of the Hawaiian
Islands. Or so the meteorologists say. I don’t really understand meteorological speak since the
weatherperson always seems to be guessing anyway. “Partly sunny, partly cloudy with chances of
showers”.  Duh, that’s like… everyday in Hawaii. It’s not like we’re prone to snow, tornadoes or
sudden overnight hurricanes. What I do know is that the high pressure system is making life
unbearable. Hot and muggy. No, more like HOT AND MUGGY. If you don’t bathe regularly,
moss and lichens are prone to start sprouting on your skin. Sweat, sweat and more sweat.
Sometimes it seems like I’m sweating while in the shower. Which brings me to my culinary
point. What do you cook and eat in conditions like this? The house is already hot enough to
slow roast any meat and what? You want to turn on the oven? Pan fry? Just as unappealing and
even more so since I may inadvertently season the dish with my own perspiration. What about a
cold salad or fruit? A better choice given the environmental conditions but sometimes you want
something more. Cold noodle salad? Now we’re getting warmer… I mean cooler.

Origins of the Noodle

Despite arguments made by various food anthropologists and historians claiming the noodle’s
origin as either China or Italy, I think it’s widely accepted now that ancient records of noodle
making go farther back in China’s records. Several thousand years back. And though we mainly
think of wheat flour based noodles due to Italian pasta, noodles are also made with rice, mung
bean, potato and buckwheat. The oldest known Chinese noodles were made from millet.
The Gochiso Gourmet’s own personal explanation of how noodles came to be may not be far
from the truth. Have you ever made bread? At some point you may have either added too much
liquid or not enough flour to your dough. What happens? You get stickier, pastier dough that
sticks to your hands. What do you do? You rub your hands together to get that sticky dough
off of your hands. What falls from your hands? Long threads of dough. Like short handmade
angel hair pasta. Perchance some of this fell into a pot of simmering liquid and voila, cooked
noodles! I would bet that this is exactly what happened in any culture that started making
noodles. The cook had some type of wheat, buckwheat or potato dough that was just a wee bit
too sticky and accidentally cleaned their hands over a pot of simmering liquid. Farfetched as this
sounds, the rubbing of hands with tacky dough is exactly how traditional couscous is made in
the Middle East.

Types of Noodles

The most common variety of noodles are those made with hard wheat semolina flour and go by
their common name; pasta. Short of a gluten allergy, I’m sure everyone has their favorite shape
of pasta whether it is long, short, wide, flat, curled, small or large. Therefore I won’t be spending
much time discussing the common varieties of pasta. However there are updated versions of
pasta that are made with whole grains – the type of grains that we all should be trying to
consume as the bulk of our dietary carbohydrates. Sometimes it’s in the shape of whole wheat
pasta; sometimes it’s a blend of various whole grains. In both cases these are not the original
brown colored, unappetizing pastas that were previously only found in the neighborhood
“hippie” health food store. With the use of hard white wheat (as opposed to hard red wheat),
these whole wheat pastas virtually look, cook and taste like refined wheat pasta. Throw a little
sauce on the pasta and the slightly darker color will be obscured by even the finickiest eater at
the table.
Though I usually don’t promote one particular brand over another, I do enjoy the multi-grain
pasta by Barilla. Their Barilla Plus angel hair, spaghetti and fusilli are made with traditional
semolina flour plus lentils, chickpeas, spelt, barley and oats so that each serving contains 17
grams of protein and 7 grams of dietary fiber. The cooked noodles also have the usual pasta
consistency but don’t get as soggy if mixed with sauce for next day leftovers. I specifically love
them in my cold pasta salads since they maintain a good texture (even when sitting in various
dressings for several days) and are healthy to boot!

For a Japanese touch there’s soba (usually a combination of buckwheat, wheat and yam flour)
and somen (wheat flour) and since both are traditionally served cold (or room temperature),
they make the ideal meals when the mercury is on the rise. Both can also be served with
traditional shoyu based dressings or dipping sauces or tossed with western vinaigrettes for fusion
pasta salad. Another benefit of these noodles is that they take very little time to cook especially
since the last thing you want to do when it’s 95 degrees and climbing is stand for 10 to 15
minutes over a boiling pot of water.

Beat the Heat

So the next time Mother Nature decides to provide an outdoor sauna for you, you can either
decide to dine in… in your neighborhood market freezer aisle or use your noodle and try one of
these cool noodle dishes.

For my Easy Barbecue Pasta recipe (printed in the Nichi Bei Times on August 2007) visit: http:

For my Shrimp Cilantro Pesto Pasta recipe (printed in the Nichi Bei Times on July 2009) visit:

Pasta Sea Salad

½ lb Barilla Plus angel hair pasta
½ lb seasoned seaweed salad
3 tbsp furikake
Shredded surimi strips

2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
½ tsp sesame oil
2 tsp honey
1 tbsp shoyu
~1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 dash sesame seeds

Break angel hair pasta in half and cook Barilla pasta according to package instructions then drain
and rinse with cold water.  Toss with next 3 ingredients then toss with dressing (can also use
bottled dressing of your choice). Serve chilled or at room temperature.

You can find seasoned seaweed salad at Japanese markets or do a web search for “seasoned
seaweed salad” to find distributors in your area.

Somen Salad

1 package dried somen noodles
¼ cup cooking oil
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp sesame seed
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp shoyu

Cook somen in boiling water according to package instructions (usually once the noodles rise to
the surface, they’re done). Drain noodles and rinse with cold water. Mix next 6 ingredients and
toss with cooked somen noodles.

Can also portion individual servings of cooked, drained and cooled somen noodles in a large flat
container.  Lightly cover noodles with shredded iceberg lettuce, thin strips of kamaboko (fish
cake), thin strips of fried egg, sliced green onions and sliced char siu or ham. Cover with the
same dressing right before serving.
Use Your Noodle