Asian Herbs & Noodles

Asian Herbs & Noodles

June 5, 2018
While all three of these vibrant herbs in this Asian herbs and noodles dish are members of the mint family, each has its own distinct flavor.

The vibrant herbs used in this Asian herbs & noodles dish each have a distinct flavor and compliment each other. All three herbs are members of the mint (Lamiaceae) family. The broad leafed herb with a purple underside and green topside is called Perilla. Perilla has a flavor with notes of anise, mint, clove, it has such complexity it could almost be it’s own curry. The green broad leafed herb, Vietnamese Lemon Balm, has a lemony, peppery, and slightly minty taste.  Peppermint has a bright minty taste, but is differs from spearmint in both taste and appearance. Peppermint has a smoother softer and darker green with somewhat of a peppery taste.

These Asian herbs appear at Farmers Markets during the late-spring early summer to early fall, and often Asian grocery stores carry them too during the season. But, if you can’t find these herbs, this herb noodle dish is also really perfect with, cilantro, spearmint and arugula which are available much more widely. Cilantro offers the lemony taste, spearmint offers the minty taste and the arugula has a peppery flavor. The piquante from the hot pepper and ginger along with the sweetness from the peaches in the Peach-ginger dressing really compliment the minty peppery tastes from the mix of herbs.

Noodles and herbs really bring out the best in one another as the textures play well together. For this noodle dish (and many of the noodles dishes I make), I have been using organic whole wheat spaghetti noodles. They hold up really well after being dressed, even overnight they hold up without becoming mushy. There are also sturdy gluten-free noodles available too. I find whole-grain, like  brown rice noodles (as opposed to noodles made from rice flour) are best for this dish. The otherwise somewhat neutral taste of noodles absorbs the dressing flavors and shows off the vibrant taste of each of these mint family herbs. Since this a cold noodle dish served at room temperature it is a good choice for when the temperatures rise.

This Asian herbs & noodles dish is also an easy one to bring to a potluck and it can be made ahead of time. I just put in a serving bowl and cover with a domed plate that fits within the bowl or plastic wrap, a pair of tongs and we are set to go. The noodles have a tendency to absorb the dressing (exactly what we want the noodles to do), but its a good idea to reserve some dressing and bring it along to freshen the dish just before service. If travelling a distance, it is best to put it in a cooler so the herbs stay bright.

Asian Herbs & Noodles with a Peach-ginger Dressing

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  • 1 lb Noodles with a long shape (whole grain spaghetti or linguine shape noodles)
  • 3 cups Vietnamese Perilla, washed and dry
  • 2 cups of Peppermint, washed and dry
  • 1 cups Vietnamese lemon balm, washed and dry
  • 2 cups of crisp romaine lettuce
  • 2/3 cup of the Peach-ginger Dressing
    Alternative Herbs
  • 3 cups Arugula (will not likely need cutting)
  • 2 Cups of Spearmint (tear or cut as noted in step 4 below for peppermint)
  • 1 cup Cilantro (rough cut the cilantro, stems are fine to include if cut small)

    Tools: Pot for boiling noodles; cutting board; knife; large serving bowl
  1. Prepare the noodles according to their package. Rinse with cold water, drain well and set aside until ready to add the vinaigrette and herbs.
  2. During the time the water is coming to a boil for the noodles and the noodles boiling, the Peach-ginger Dressing can be made and the herbs and lettuce cut.
  3. Cut the Perilla and lemon balm into chiffonade (stack the leaves, roll up and cut into 1/4in ribbons)
  4. Tear or cut the peppermint into chiffonade (stack the leaves, roll up and cut into 1/4in ribbons)
  5. Cut the romaine crosswise into 1/4in ribbons as well.
  6. Add the cooked and drained noodles to a large serving bowl, Pour about 1/3 cup of the peach-ginger vinaigrette around the rim of the bowl and toss or stir to coat the noodles.
  7. Add the herbs and lettuce, toss, add more vinaigrette as desired. If you will be serving later, reserve some of the dressing to add just before service to freshen it up.
  8. Garnish with lots of fresh sliced peaches and toasted almonds.

This recipe works well for a smaller amount by simply cutting all of the ingredients in half. I almost always prepare the full pound of noodles as it is nice to have for another dish. Most noodles will last up to three days in the refrigerator.

Prep Time: 10 minutes - Cook Time: 10 minutes Yield: 6–8

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While all three of these vibrant herbs in this Asian herbs and noodle dish are members of the mint family, each has its own distinct flavor.

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