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TIP OF THE DAY: Soba Noodles & Soba Salad

Soba noodles typically are served on a flat
plate like pasta; but here, it’s swirled into a
stylish dome. Photo © Lulu Durand | IST.

 

Unless you live in an area with good Japanese restaurants, it may be difficult to find a dish of soba noodles. But if you check in a natural foods market or online, you should be able to pick some up and cook your own.

Soba dishes are appealing party fare, from bowls of noodle soup meant to be slurped with gusto, to a mix-your-own cold soba noodle salad with four, six or more optional ingredients with which to customize one’s dish.

Soba is the Japanese word for buckwheat; the thin noodles are made from buckwheat flour. As with all pasta, soba noodles can be served warm or chilled (think cold sesame noodles and pasta salad). Here are some popular recipes:

HOT SOBA NOODLE DISHES

  • Soup: A bowl of dashi broth, filled with soba, is typically topped with sliced green onion and a tempura shrimp; add a fried egg, sunnyside up, and you’ve got tsukimi tororo. You can customize the dish with mushrooms, nori strips (seaweed) and/or western ingredients such as kale or spinach.
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  • Stir fry: Topped with a stir fry of baby bok choy, bell peppers, green onions, snow peas and a protein (chicken, fish/seafood, tofu).
  • Fish dishes: Seared ahi tuna with a sesame crust (recipe) or miso-poached cod are wonderful on a bed of soba. Asparagus or snow peas add complementary color and flavor.
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    COLD SOBA NOODLE DISHES

  • Hiyashi soba: One of our favorite ways to enjoy soba is this “mix your own” concept served with dishes of optional ingredients. These mix-ins or toppings can include fresh cilantro, green onion slices (scallions), natto (fermented soybeans), nori strips, okra slices, oroshi (grated daikon radish), purée of yamaimo (Japanese yam) and a pitcher of dashi. You can add some optional heat, such as minced birds eye chile. Add a fried egg, sunnyside up, and you’ve got yakisoba.
  • Mori soba: Plain chilled soba noodles served on a flat basket or a plate.
  • Zaru soba: Mori soba topped with shredded nori seaweed.
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    Soba salad, cold soba mixed with vegetables and sesame oil-soy sauce dressing is a contemporary fusion concept served outside Japan. House Foods, makers of premium tofu and organic tofu, has provided the recipe below, which uses traditional Japanese ingredients.

    But you can extend the fusion with western ingredients: hard-cooked egg, julienned ham and cheese, strips of roast pork or poultry, leeks or red onions instead of green onions, sliced red radishes…anything goes.

    In fact, one conceit for a soba noodles party is to have each guest bring a creative ingredient to mix in.

     

    RECIPE: SOBA NOODLE SALAD WITH TOFU

    Add optional asparagus and/or snow peas, diagonally cut, for another dimension of flavor. Adjust the ingredients to suit your taste. For example, we prefer more red bell pepper and green onions on the salad, and less sugar in the dressing.

    This recipe serves 6.

    Ingredients

  • 1 block extra firm tofu (14 ounces), drained, patted dry and cut into ½ inch strips
  • 8 ounces soba noodles, uncooked
  • 1 medium cucumber, cut into 1/8-inch-thick julienne strips
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, julienned
  •  
    For The Dressing

  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 2½ tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons green onions (scallions), minced
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (method below)
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    Uncooked soba (buckwheat) noodles. Photo © Maria Lapsha | Fotolia.

     

    Preparation

    1. TOAST sesame seeds: Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add sesame seeds; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Immediately remove seeds from hot pan to avoid over-toasting.

    2. COOK noodles in a large pot, following package directions. Drain and rinse well under cold water. Set aside and refrigerate.

    3. SPRAY oil on a nonstick pan and grill tofu. Set aside and refrigerate.

    4. WHISK together the dressing ingredients.

    5. TOSS together noodles, cucumber, red bell pepper and optional asparagus and/or snow peas.

    6. Add tofu strips and mix well.
     
     
    RELATED RECIPE

    Try this recipe with conventional wheat noodles: Japanese somen noodles with dipping sauce.

      




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