Recipe by Anna Henricks
Born in Norwich, VT in 1979
Lives in Portland, OR
Profession: Owner/cake artist of Sweetheart St. Johns, a botanically inspired custom cake house
Leisure: I go to the lake during the week because those are my days off (which lake has to stay a secret!)
Word of the day: Green
Childhood cuisine: Mixture of authentic Chinese food (3 to 4 nights a week) and Pennsylvania Dutch Americana the rest of the time
Anna was the first person I saw using cakes as a canvas for floral artworks, and by that I mean fully realized floral visions. She composes gorgeous custom cakes and utilizes the plants she grows in her yard (by her count, over 300 varieties) to create taste and aesthetic experiences with intentional meaning behind them. She posts an array of her works on her instagram @sweetheartstjohns. It was only appropriate that this master of cakes would make a noodle cake for us! Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, full of fresh herbs and great with a side of crunchy radish, this dish is perfect brunch food. It seem to marry the best of a lot of different foods: dumpling meets tortilla espanola meets kugel. Whatever this cake is, we’ll take it, and with a side of flowers, please!
Anna use Hot Mama Salsa hot sauce and chili oil in this recipe. You can find those and her fresh salsas at Portland-area stores including New Seasons Markets and several local farmers markets. If you don’t live in Portland, you should come here just to buy her products or order online at hotmamasalsa.com.
Active Time: About 40 minutes | Yield one 10-inch cake | Serves 4 to 6
1 package (12 ounces) Umi Organic ramen noodles
1 bunch scallions, sliced (about 1 cup)
1 cup (about 4 ounces) daikon radish, peeled and grated
1 ounce (about a 3-inch piece) fresh ginger, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup packed cilantro, washed (leaves and stems)
1 cup packed arugula
1 cup packed basil
1 to 2 teaspoons chilie sauce (I use Hot Mama Salsa fermented fresno chili sauce)
2 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons peanut oil for frying
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili oil (I use Hot Mama Salsa smoky coffee chili oil)
1 bunch chives, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
2 pounds assorted radishes, cut into chunks, some left whole (you can use any types of radishes here, some of my favorites are: Purple Daikon, Watermelon, French Breakfast, even small tender Turnips….I like to keep the green leafy tops on if they are fresh and crunchy)
Edible flowers, sprouts and other pretty spring herbs and greens (optional)
Fill a pot with 3 quarts water, put the lid on and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, remove the noodles from package and use your fingers to gently separate and un-coil them into the pot. Cover the pot and cook 2 minutes, stirring every so often, until noodles are just tender. Remove pot from the heat, then strain and rinse the noodles under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Drain thoroughly and toss into a large mixing bowl. Add chopped scallions and grated radish. Set aside.
Place all of the batter ingredients together in the jar of a blender, blend at high speed until smooth, pour over the noodles and veggies and toss to coat.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil in a large cast iron skillet over high heat until just about smoking, add the noodle mix and press down with the back of a spatula to even out the top and compress the mixture into the pan. Cook over high heat 10 minutes.
While the cake is cooking, make the dipping sauce by combining all ingredients in a mason jar, secure it with a lid and shake it until well combined. Set aside.
Use a heat-proof spatula to run along the edge of the pan and loosen the cake away from the sides. Cover the pan with a plate and invert the cake onto the plate (the crispy-side will be facing up), add the remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil to the pan and gently slide the cake off of the plate and back into the pan to cook the other side.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook the cake 10 minutes until golden brown on both sides and cooked through in the middle. Remove from the heat and invert the cake onto a plate. Let rest for 2 minutes. Once the cake has cooled enough to handle, slice into wedges, garnish with chives, radishes, optional flowers and greens, and serve with the dipping sauce.
Photos by Shawn Linehan.