January 2014 Issue

For the Love of Noodles
By Bryan Roof, RD, LDN
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 16 No. 1 P. 66

Each night before he goes to bed, my eldest son, Nolan, insists on running through a list of things he loves. All immediate and extended family members and pets are mentioned; then Santa and Mrs Claus, the Sandman, the Easter Bunny, Jack Frost, and the Tooth Fairy; and finally, dumplings and noodles round out the list. The kid has a serious addiction to Asian-style noodles and dumplings—all foods Asian, as a matter of fact. He even taught himself to use chopsticks just by watching me (because I couldn’t begin to explain the mechanics, so he was on his own).

I also grew up with a fondness for Asian food, but unlike Nolan, my self-imposed menu selections were restricted to pork lo mein and shrimp with lobster sauce, which contains no lobster and only a trace of shrimp. My mother used to say, “Even bad Chinese food is good.”

I’ve wrestled with that notion a lot recently because once you’ve had really good Chinese food, you realize how awful bad Chinese food can be (no disrespect, Mom). However, Nolan would strongly agree with her, I’m sure.

At home, we often make noodle salads because they’re a great way to use leftovers and increase the amount of vegetables in a meal. Nolan’s love for noodles overrides any hesitation about eating leafy greens, scallions, or chiles. We opt for bean threads (made from mung beans and sometimes potato starch) or rice noodles. They’re simple to cook: just cover them with boiling water, let sit for 15 minutes, then drain. Once they’re rehydrated their volume multiplies by 10, so a mere 6 oz of dried noodles, plus garnishes, easily feeds our family of five.

Good thing, too, because somebody has quite the appetite.

— Bryan Roof, RD, LDN, is a chef, dietitian, and food writer living in Boston. Follow him on Twitter @bryanroof.


Bean Thread Salad With Sesame Vinaigrette

Serves 4

Bean thread noodles sometimes are labeled as cellophane noodles. Rice noodles also may be used in this recipe.


Sesame Vinaigrette
6 T low-sodium soy sauce
3 T cider vinegar
3 T toasted sesame oil
1 tsp yellow mustard
1 tsp sugar

6 oz bean thread noodles
6 oz English cucumber, peeled and diced
5 scallions, sliced thin on bias
6 oz cooked, diced pork tenderloin
1 cup baby arugula, coarsely chopped
2 large hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 T toasted sesame seeds

1. Combine all the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar, affix the lid, and shake vigorously to combine.

2. Place the noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the noodles thoroughly in a colander then transfer to a large platter. Sprinkle the cucumber around the exterior of the noodles, followed by the scallions, pork, arugula, eggs, and cilantro. Sprinkle the sesame seeds directly over the noodles.

3. At the table, dress the noodles with 3 T of the vinaigrette, and toss all the ingredients together to combine. Serve, dressing individual portions as desired. (Reserve the remaining dressing for another use; it will keep in the refrigerator indefinitely.)

Nutrient Analysis per serving
Calories: 330; Total fat: 10 g; Sat fat: 2.5 g; Trans fat: 0 g; Cholesterol: 145 mg; Sodium: 250 mg; Total carbohydrate: 42 g; Fiber: 2 g; Sugars: 2 g; Protein: 17 g