Udon and ramen, curry, K-BBQ—these might be our staples year-round, but now that summer has arrived in full force, it’s time to reach for the food that will cool us off instead of making us break out in sweat. Luckily, API cuisines have plenty of cold meals you can eat to ward off that 90-degree heat outside. Crank up your AC and check out these eight dishes that might just make you grateful for summer’s return.
1.Zaru Soba (Japan)
To make zaru soba, or cold soba, buckwheat noodles are boiled, then cooled and sprinkled with a generous helping of nori and sesame seeds. Don’t forget the traditional soy dipping sauce, mentsuyu, to add that extra kick of umami as you chow down.
2. Spring Rolls (Vietnam/Cambodia)
Fried rolls are sometimes referred to as spring rolls, but the Vietnamese and Cambodian version isn’t cooked. Instead, fresh veggies, rice vermicelli and any type of meat, usually shrimp, are wrapped up neatly in rice paper and served with fish sauce. You can add chopped Thai chilis to the sauce if you want to up the seasoning ante.
3. Naengmyeon (Korea)
There are seemingly endless variations on this dish, but the base of the meal is a mound of slippery glass noodles, often made from sweet potato or buckwheat (similar to soba), served in a chilled broth. Toppings like boiled eggs, seaweed, veggies, meat and more can be added. An ice-cold soup might sound off-putting, but get back to us when you’re trying to cut down on that AC bill.
4. Jiàng Niú Ròu (China)
You might not find this cold, braised beef at many Chinese restaurants here in the States, but luckily it’s easy to make at home. Before serving, make sure the meat is completely chilled—it may sound counterintuitive, but doing so actually makes for a more tender bite.
5. Mango Salad (Thailand)
Thai mango salad is like your cafeteria’s fruit salad on steroids—firm, tangy green mango is sliced into long strands, then mixed with veggies and peanuts and topped with a ginger-chili dressing. If all salads were like this, we might order them more often.
6. Pani Puri (India)
This popular street food is made by stuffing a puri, a puffy, unleavened bread, with flavored water and fillings like chickpeas, potatoes and tamarind chutney, among others. Tangy or spicy, sour or sweet, there’s a pani puri variety for everyone to try.
7. Macaroni Salad (Hawaii)
Often served with a heaping mound of rice, mac salad is a staple on any Hawaiian lunch plate. Though it does contain shredded carrots, the word “salad” might be a bit of a misnomer. But the delicious pasta dish is well-worth the ensuing trip to the gym.
8. Liang Mian (Taiwan/China)
Liang mian, which literally means “cool noodles,” are a summertime favorite in the southern regions of China and in Taiwan. They can be eaten with peanut sauce or sesame seeds (or both) for a tasty meal that won’t leave you bloated and overheated.