As incredible as it may seem, Foodbuzz.com has challenged me to tackle a classic dish from another culture, one that is a bit out of my comfort zone. 

It’s a huge pleasure to be presented with this challenge, especially when so many of my readers and friends voted for me!  Thanks so very much for your confidence, I’m up to the dare!

So why did I choose an “extravagant” salad to write about?  Remember the challenge - - “classic dish, another culture, and out of my comfort zone”.  There’s nothing more classic than noodles, more foreign than China and more strange to me than trying to recreate this dish with oriental ingredients, not readily found half-way around the world in Panama.

One of the most important cuisines in the world is Chinese, although I’m not very familiar with it.  The most essential ingredient and staple in Chinese cuisine is the noodle, it has been for over 4,000 years.  We know this because in 2005, fossil noodles were discovered in Qinghai, China that were that old.

I don’t think Chef Lauretta knew how long noodles have been made when she selected Chinese Noodle Salad to be one of the featured dishes for the last Boquete Underground Dinner.   This very trendy Bistro Boquete Restaurant owner and chef prepared the most decadent, delicious noodle salad that any of the diners had ever tasted.   Some of the guests ordered a second helping, it was so yummy!

It wasn’t any ordinary noodle salad, if there is such a thing.  It had peanuts in it, mushrooms, broccoli, sesame seeds and it was spicy, very spicy.  It was a most unique creation.

Here’s my dilemma: should I ask Lauretta for her recipe, or shall I try to duplicate it myself?  I’m wondering if any diners tried to duplicate it themselves, as it was the best salad many of us had ever tasted. 

The taste was intriguing, so many ingredients in one dish and yet, is was so light and fluffy, even called “extravagant”.

I decided to try to make Lauretta’s salad myself and this is my attempt at making peanut, sesame, noodle salad, and I call it my
Spurious Chinese Noodle Salad.
3 packages ramen noodles, cooked
1/2 head green cabbage, finely sliced
1 carrot, grated
1 cup fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup small heads of broccoil, blanched
1 red pepper, thinkly sliced
5 green spring onions, thinly sliced
1 cup cocktail peanuts for garnish
3 tablespoons sesame seeds for garnish

Dressing
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, cleaned and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili oil, it must have provided Lauretta’s “bite”

Combine the salad ingredients in a large salad bowl and toss lightly with fingers, as Lauretta is doing in the first photo. Whisk the ingredients for the dressing together and pour into a squeeze bottle.

Make a huge, extravagant portion, as everyone will want lots of this salad.

Pile it onto beautiful salad plates. It’s fine to use your hands, real chefs do it that way. Squeeze on a generous portion of dressing as Lauretta is doing, sprinkle on the peanuts and sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Remember, this is my recipe and my challenge. Both turned out deliciously, don’t you think?

I call my salad “spurious” because it’s not Lauretta’s recipe, but it’s a good fake.
I’ll ask Lauretta for her “real” recipe as soon as she gets settled into her new restaurant, The Bistro Boquete. It’s been remodeled and is opening tonight! Good luck, Lauretta!

Have fun faking!
Cora