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
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.
Uncooked soba (buckwheat) noodles. Photo © Maria Lapsha | Fotolia.
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.
Try this recipe with conventional wheat noodles: Japanese somen noodles with dipping sauce.