For me, the biggest challenge of making bento isn't the preparation or even the packing. It's the planning involved in thinking of a colorful balance of side dishes to include. This easy cold noodle salad can be thrown together in minutes, and it provides a colorful balance of tastes and textures that makes a beautiful side dish to pack into a bento.
Harusame noodles are made from mung bean starch, and they're often labeled "bean thread noodles" or "glass noodles." They have a unique slippery texture that doesn't go soggy, perfect for make-ahead dishes like this.
As for the mix-ins, I used cucumbers and ham for the balance of colors, but this works with other veggies like corn, snap peas, carrots, or radishes.
- 30 grams harusame bean thread noodles
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 80 grams cucumbers thinly sliced
- 80 grams ham chopped
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- Break the harusame into 5-inch lengths and put them in a heat-safe bowl. Pour over boiling water and let the harusame cook until tender. Mine took 4 minutes, but check the directions on your package of noodles.
- While the noodles are soaking, whisk the soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt together in a bowl to combine.
- When the noodles are cooked, drain them and rinse with cold water. Squeeze out any excess water and put them in a bowl along with the sliced cucumber, chopped ham, toasted sesame seeds, and dressing.
- Toss to coat evenly. The salad can be served immediately or kept for up to two days in the refrigerator.