Cold and Spicy Korean Noodles

This refreshing dish – a noodle bowl and salad in one – is infinitely customizable. Use Korean somen noodles or Japanese soba.  Make the eggs hard-boiled, as suggested, or soft-boiled – that's great, too. When you make the dressing, it may seem like a lot, but I found that it's just the right amount to serve two. If one of you wants it very spicy and the other not so much, no worries – you can add a big pinch of Korean chile flakes to make one hotter. Want to make the dish vegetarian? Leave out the kimchi and fish sauce; use a little more soy sauce and spoonful of Korean chile paste instead. Leave off the egg as well, and it's vegan.

Serves 2.

Ingredients

1 egg

6 ounces Korean somen noodles or soba noodles

1 cup julienned romaine lettuce (about 5 or 6 big leaves, ribs removed)

1/2 cup thin-sliced red cabbage

1 small carrot, peeled and julienned (about 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup julienned cucumber (about half a medium cucumber, peeled if waxed)

2/3 cup kimchi, chopped roughly

1/2 cup mung bean sprouts

2 scallions, sliced thin (green and white parts)

1 sheet toasted nori, cut into bite-sized strips

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

1 tablespoon finely julienned shiso (Japanese perilla) or a few cilantro leaves for garnish

Korean chile flakes (optional)

For the dressing:

1/3 cup kimchi

One quarter of an apple, peeled, cored and cut in 2 or 3 pieces

2 tablespoons kimchi juice

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon fish sauce

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Korean chile flakes (optional)

Instructions

1. Place the egg in a small pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. As soon as the water boils remove the pot from the heat, cover and let stand for 11 minutes. Drain and run cold water over it to cool, maybe dropping in some ice cubes. Set aside to continue to cool.

2. While the egg is cooling, make the noodles. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (no salt necessary), drop in the noodles, and cook till just done (supple and cooked through, but not still firm), probably 3 or 4 minutes. Drain and run cold water through the noodles to cool. Add a few ice cubes if you'd like them really chilled.

3. Make the dressing: Put the kimchi, apple, kimchi juice, rice vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil in the bowl of a blender or food processor and process till smooth. Taste, and add a pinch or more of Korean chile flakes if you'd like it spicier.

4. To serve, arrange half the romaine lettuce on the bottom of each of two bowls. Remove the ice cubes from the noodles and place half the noodles on top of the lettuce in each, and divide the dressing over the noodles. Arrange half the red cabbage, carrot, cucumber, kimchi, mung bean sprouts, scallions and nori around the edge of each bowl. Peel the egg and slice it in half; put half on each bowl. Sprinkle half the sesame seeds over each, and garnish with the shiso or cilantro. Serve with the chile flakes, if desired.