I've always liked noodles.
Bring on the spaghetti, I often say.
But when I traveled to Japan earlier this year, I discovered a whole new level of pasta.
Let's just say the Japanese know how to do noodles.
After trying just one bowl of noodles, my husband and I became willing to search the streets of Tokyo for hours to find the hidden ramen, soba and udon spots boasted about in our travel guide.
The happy slurps we made over steaming bowls packed with rich broth, chewy noodles and flecks of meat and vegetables are proof the search was worth it.
The good news: You don't have to spend 10 hours on a plane (with or without snakes) to get your Japanese noodle fix.
Try this recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine. The more exotic ingredients should be available at one of the Asian markets around town.
Remember, in Japan, it's polite to eat your noodles noisily, so slurp away!
Yield: 6 servings
1 1/2 pounds salmon fillet, skinned
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
5 tablespoons store-bought teriyaki marinade
2 tablespoons black or red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
6 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 piece peeled fresh ginger, finely grated
1 pound thin wheat noodles or soba noodles
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 instant dashi stock powder
3 scallions, white parts cut into 1-inch pieces, green parts thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups baby spinach
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Season salmon with salt and pepper. Transfer to resealable bag. Add teriyaki marinade; gently toss to coat. Refrigerate at least 1 hour (and up to 4 hours).
Make the dressing: Whisk together vinegar, chili sauce, fish sauce and ginger in a small bowl; set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to package instructions 3 to 5 minutes. Drain, and rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
Remove salmon from marinade, and rub with oil; reserve marinade. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot.
Add salmon; cook, flipping once, until dark brown, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare.
Add about half of the reserved marinade during last minute of cooking and flip salmon to coat.
Transfer to a plate. Let stand 5 minutes. Flake into large chunks.
Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Stir in dashi powder and white part of scallion. Reduce to a simmer and cook 3 minutes. Set aside.
To serve, divide noodles among 6 serving bowls; ladle some dashi broth over noodles. Divide salmon and spinach among bowls. Drizzle with dressing; sprinkle with sesame seeds and green part of scallions. Serve immediately.