This week on Pacific Palate, a visit to Sambal & Ginger, an Asian grocery for Western Kitchens in central Vancouver. Lynn Santiago opened the shop a few months ago when she realized people in that area needed an easy and friendly place to find basic ingredients for all kinds of south Asian cooking.
Lynn grew up in a Filipino household on dishes from her country and the West, but when she got out on her own, she realized she didn’t know how to make all of her mom’s dishes that she craved…and so began her learning process. Now she teaches others at the shop.
Her main sections include all the essential flavours of China, India, Japan, the Phillipines and Indonesia. There is also a line of cookbooks that feature great descriptions of basic ingredients along with photos so you know what you’re looking at! Sambal & Ginger is at 731 W. 16th Avenue in Vancouver.
Lynn usually features a different recipe every month in the shop that uses ingredients available there and this month is no exception. Pictured here is my rendition of a Japanese-style somen noodle salad. It’s a cold salad, and tastes better the more chilled the ingredients are, so don’t rush into eating it! The recipe calls for cooked prawns or shrimp, and a final sprinkling of Shichimi Togarashi, a spicy powder. I had raw prawns, so I sprinkled them with the Togarashi and quickly fried them. Delicious!
Here’s the recipe:
Somen Noodle, Prawn and Cucumber Salad
2 Lebanese (short cucumber) or 1 Firm English Cucumber
1 Tbsp Dried wakame seaweed pieces
100 g (3.5 oz) Dried somen noodle
12 Cooked Prawns/Shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut in half lengthwise
3 Scallions, thinly sliced on diagonal
Shichimi Togarashi (option to serve)
185 ml Hon tsuyu (a Japanese soup base)
2 Tsp Ginger, finely grated
½ Tsp sesame oil
Cut cucumbers in half lengthways (keep 3 inches in length), scoop out seeds, slice very thinly on slight diagonal. Put cucumber in colander, sprinkle with salt and set aside 10 minutes, rinse, drain and gently squeeze out as much water as you can. Chill in fridge until needed. Meanwhile, soak wakame in cold water 5 minutes, drain well and chill. Mix all dressing ingredients together, chill. Bring large saucepan of water to boil then reduce to simmer. Add noodles, cook 2 minutes or until tender. Quickly drain and rinse under cold running water until noodles are completely cool. Combine cucumber, wakame, noodles, prawns and half scallion in large bowl. Pour dressing and toss. Serve immediately, garnish with remaining scallion and sprinkle with shichimi togarashi.