Japan Eats

Thai noodle salad

Again with the nampla!

This week, a variation on the classic Thai glass-noodle salad (yum woon sen). This dish works well as a kind of otsumami (small dish to accompany alcohol) – the zest of the lemon juice and the spice of the peppers loose nothing after a few glasses of beer or shochu.

This particular recipe uses ingredients which are readily available in Japan. For a more authentic Thai flavor, exchange limes for lemons and add extra peppers. Also, in Thailand the coriander root is used to give the sauce even greater flavor. If you want to try this, use a mortar and pestle to crush a coriander root together with the chopped red pepper, then add fish sauce, sugar and lemon/lime juice.

Thai noodle salad

Thai noodle salad

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 50 g cellophane noodles (bean threads)
  • 100 – 120 g cabbage
  • 60 – 70 g celery (including leaves)
  • 50 g red onion
  • 100 g shrimp
  • 100 g ground pork
  • 10 – 15 g coriander

Salad dressing

  • 3 table spoons of Thai fish sauce
  • 1 and 1/2 tea spoons of sugar
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons of lemon juice (1/2 a lemon)
  • 1 – 2 red peppers


Cut the cabbage into thin strips and the red onion into thin slices. Next, slice the celery stems diagonally and the leaves into large pieces.

Chop the coriander stems finely and cut the leaves into large pieces.

Place all of the vegetables into a large salad bowl, roughly 25 cm in diameter.

Wash the shrimp carefully and boil them. When cooked, drain and cool so that the shells can be removed.

Pour 2 cups of water into a small pan and bring it to the boil. Next, put the ground pork into the pan and cook for about 4 – 5 minutes, stirring so as to break it up.

Before cooking the cellophane noodles, prepare the salad dressing. Remove the stalk and seeds from the red pepper and cut into 5 mm pieces. Place these in a small bowl.

Add fish sauce, sugar and mix together with the peppers. Finally, add lemon juice and mix together roughly.

Place a pan with 4 -5 cups of water onto a high heat. Once it has come to the boil, place the cellophane noodles into the pan and cook for about 3 minutes. Once cooked, drain the noodles and cut them into lengths of about 10 cm. Place in the salad bowl.

While the cellophane noodles are still warm, pour the dressing over the ingredients and mix together by hand. Serve with a garnish of coriander leaves.

Recipe: Japchae

Japchae is a popular Korean dish which mixes stir-fried cellophane noodles with beef and vegetables.

In Japan, cellophane noodles are referred to as harusame (literally “spring rain.”) Made from either green beans or sweet potato, they are commonly used in deep fried spring rolls, salads, or as an ingredient in Chinese style soup dishes.

To make japchae, you don’t need to have all the ingredients, but a combination of beef, onion, carrot, cucumber and shiitake mushrooms works best. You may also experiment by adding your own favorite vegetables (I sometimes add zucchini).



Ingredients (serves four)

  • 80 g harusame noodles
  • 50 g onion
  • 50 g carrot
  • 100 g cucumber
  • 50 g shiitake mushrooms
  • 50 g green pepper
  • 50 g red pepper
  • 50 g sliced beef
  • 100 g spinach


  • 2 teaspoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sake
  • 1 tablespoon of mirin
  • 1 tablespoon of finely minced green onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon of ground sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of grated garlic
  • 1-2 pinches of pepper


  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of grounded sesame seeds
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of soy sauce


Cut the sliced beef into thin strips. Next, cut away the shiitake stems and slice them into thin strips.

Mix the ingredients of the marinade and marinate the beef and shiitake mushrooms for 20-30 minutes.

Place a pot with water on a high heat. When it comes to the boil, cook the spinach for 30 seconds, then place it into a bowl of cold water. Squeeze the spinach and remove any liquid. Cut into strips 3cm in length.

Next, slide the cucumber into thin strips and place these into a bowl together with a pinch of salt and mix. When they have become soft, remove the moisture.

Cut the carrot, green and red pepper into thin strips. Now slice the onion thinly in the direction of the grain.

Place a pot with water on a high heat. Once it has come to the boil, cook the harusame one minute short of the directions on the package. Once the harusame is cooked, drain the hot water and cut them roughly into bite sized pieces. Place the noodles into a bowl, mix with the sauce and allow them to cool.

Pour a tablespoon of vegetable oil into a pan and stir-fry the onion, carrot, green pepper, red pepper and cucumber together with 2-3 pinches of salt and pepper. Now pour into the bowl of harusame.

Using the same pan, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and stir-fry the marinated beef and shiitake mushrooms with the sauce and then pour these ingredients into the bowl of harusame.

Finally, mix all the ingredients. Serve with ground sesame seeds sprinkled on top.