WARM JAPANESE BLACK NOODLE SALAD (V+, GF, ChF, NF)

If you've been following along on instagram, you know that I got REALLY lucky a few weeks ago cuz I got to share my kitchen with the sweet and super talented chef Ceri from Natural Kitchen Adventures. Not only has Ceri rubbed shoulders with Jamie Oliver (as you do!) and run a successful blog for more than 4 years, she also has a very non-dogmatic approach to healthy eating which resonated with me from the moment I stumbled across her blog.

Oddly enough, I first got to 'know' Ceri through instagram but only actually met her face-to-face in May of this year. How did it all come about? Well, Ceri mentioned in her ig feed that she was attending a food photography workshop just as I was at a point on my food blogging journey where I desperately needed some guidace and direction. Hence I gladly tagged along to the workshop and not only did I learn loads, I also got to meet Ceri in real life, which was a lovely added bonus.

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The food photography class was action packed and we didn't actually get to speak to one another all that much, but I knew she lived really close to me and the idea of a joint blog post quickly developed. After some e-mails back and forth full of creative ideas and enthusiasm, Ceri hopped on over to my house on a rainy Monday morning for some serious recipe testing, food photography and a fair amount of eating ;). 

It was the first time either one of us had done a blogger collaboration and neither Ceri nor I quite knew what to expect from this joint venture. But if you read my last blog entry, you know that I was interested in delving deeper into the world of blogging, so inexperience wasn't going to stop me. 

For me up until that point blogging had always been a personal, creative process during which I could mould and form a blog post just the way I wanted to; no need to consult anyone else or compromise. And then suddenly, here we were eager to develop an awesome blog post with someone else whose style and vision were rather different to our own; it was kind of cool and daunting all at the same time.

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Ceri's vision was to create something clean and simple, unpretention and bright. She was instantly drawn to the white wooden background and keen to present the salad on a beautiful, oval plate. Whereas I on the other hand just couldn't shake off the idea of styling the recipe in a slightly darker, moodier and messier way, inspired by the colour of the noodles themselves as well as the grey sky.  

We tried a couple of different things, all of which were really lovely, but none of which felt quite like 'me'. However with time of the essence, we had to call it a day before I could really develop my idea (no hard feelings though I hasten to add).

Following our joint cooking frenzy, I took a few days to develop my vision  further and - in discussion with Ceri and with her blessing - re-shot the recipe the way I saw it in my mind; the pictures you see here are the result of that re-shoot.

Ceri really liked the pictures (thanks Ceri ;)) but felt that the new images in turn weren't 'her'. So we decided to present the same recipe in two different ways, which I'm super pleased about actually. Wanna see Ceri's version? (Rhetorical question of course!) Then head on over to her blog and enjoy:)

Thanks for reading everyone and I hope you like the recipe as much as we did :)

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WARM JAPANESE BLACK NOODLE SALAD (GF, V, ChF, NF)

We adapted this recipe from 101cookbooks :). It is UTTERLY delicious, gluten-free and so quick and easy to make, just perfect for a mid-week meal.The recipe's mixture of warm and fresh ingredients makes it a great, light autumn meal - not as cold as your regular salad, but also not as stoggy and heavy as most autumnal recipe.  

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 2-4 

Ingredients:
250g/9oz black rice noodles (see tips below for alternatives)
a pinch of salt
1-2 handfuls of fresh (organic) spinach 
a handful of (organic) radishes
½ (organic) cucumber
a handful of fresh (organic) coriander/cilantro
1-2 long (organic) onions/scallions
1 tbs (black or white) (organic) sesame seeds
½ tsp chilly flakes (optional)

Ingredients for the dressing (please see tips for details):
2 tbs sesame oil
juice of 1 (organic) lemon
1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
2 tbs brown rice vinegar
2tbs of tamari sauce

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Instructions:
Get all the ingredients out and onto the kitchen counter, ready for use.

Wash the spinach, radishes, cucumber, coriander and long onions. Roughly chop the spinach and coriander. Finely chop the long onions. Half the cucumber and take out the seeds then slice finely with a potato peeler into long ribbons (as shown). Slice the radishes finely with a potato peeler or just chop finely, whichever you prefer. Set all the fresh, chopped ingredients aside.

Next bring a pot of water with a pinch of salt to the boil. Once the water has started boiling, add the noodles. Follow the instructions on the back of the packet of noodles for length of time they need to cook, but the ones I used needed about 5 minutes.

Next prepare the dressing. Grate the ginger and place in a small container. Add the lemon juice, sesame oil, brown rice vinegar and tamari sauce. Stir and combine well.

The noodles should be cooked now, so remove them from the heat. Drain off the hot water and then briefly run the cooked noodles under a cold water tap to stop them from cooking further.

In a bowl, mix the noodles with the spinach, radishes, cucumber and long onions. Then drizzle the dressing over the noddles and mix together well.

Finally, top with sesame seeds as well as the chilly flakes if using.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Tip 1: You can also use pak choi/bok choy instead of spinach if you prefer.
Tip 2: We used black rice noodles because they look beautiful, are gluten-free and taste amazing. But you can also use white, brown rice or traditional Asian noodles if you wish and this is easier for you to come by.
Tip 3: You can completely adapt this recipe to your tastebuds. For example, you can add fresh chopped chillies, grated carrot or soya spouts if you wish. Or replace the sesame seeds with chopped peanuts.
Tip 4: If you don't have tamari sauce to hand, you can use light soya sauce instead. 

Eat with... my easy miso soup for a complete 2-course meal.

Would you like to support this blog? Then please consider sharing this recipe on pinterest or follow along on instagram. It would be greatly appreciated.

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