This article was originally featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2006.

Asian-accented salsa cruda

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

For the noodles
2.5-ounce package cellophane noodles (bean threads)
1 tablespoon Japanese soy sauce
1/2 lemon

For the salsa
2 or 3 small tomatoes or 1 large beefsteak tomato
1 small or 1/2 large cucumber
1/2 Vidalia or other sweet onion, enough to make about 1/2 cup (120g) chopped onion
1 or 2 large cloves garlic
1-inch (2.5cm) length fresh ginger
2 scallions 1 1/2 tablespoons (20g) peanut oil
1/2 tablespoon rice-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon (5g) sesame oil
Black pepper

For the tofu
8 ounces (240g) firm or extra-firm tofu
1 clove garlic
1/4-inch length fresh ginger
1 tablespoon peanut oil


1. THE NOODLES: Remove the noodles from their packaging. You may wish to either break the dry, brittle, Shredded Wheat-like packet into several smaller chunks before cooking or snip them into shorter strands after, as they're very long and can be a little hard to eat unless you break them up. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil, turn off heat, and put in the noodles. Let them soak for 15 minutes. Drain through a strainer, then return to a pot of boiling water and allow to simmer for another minute or two. Drain and "shock" with cold water to stop further cooking. Put them in a bowl, toss with the soy sauce and juice of 1/2 lemon, and put in the refrigerator to cool.

2. THE SALSA: Cut the tomato into 1/2-inch dice, and peel and cut the cucumber into similar-size pieces. Peel and mince the garlic and ginger and chop the scallions. Heat the peanut oil in a skillet or saute pan and cook the minced garlic and ginger over medium heat until it's translucent. Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes and cucumber. You don't want to cook them, just leave them with the cooked vegetables so the flavors will blend. Stir in the rice-wine vinegar and sesame oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. THE TOFU: Cut a block of firm or extra-firm tofu into fairly large (3/4-inch) dice. Wipe a large, nonstick skillet with just enough peanut oil to coat it. Put in a smashed garlic clove and piece of fresh ginger over medium-high heat until they sizzle and become aromatic. Put in the rinsed and drained tofu and saute, turning gently from time to time, until they're pale tan and crisp. Discard the garlic and ginger and serve immediately, while they're hot.

4. ASSEMBLY: Put the cellphane noodles in chilled bowls, top with the salsa and garnish with the crisp-fried tofu. Dinner's ready!

These subtle Asian flavors call for a crisp, refreshing summer white or even a bone-dry rosé. A Grüner Veltliner would hit the spot, as would a fuller-style Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio; it made a fine match with the robust Henry Estate 2004 Umpqua Valley Pinot Gris from Oregon.