Here is another way to eat soba noodles, this time out of broth, not hot, but still delicious. I like how soba noodles are robust enough to soak up a dressing without going limp, but still tender enough to blend lovingly with other ingredients. Yes, soba noodles are a good thing.
This is a Japanese-inspired dressing to toss your soba in. Feel free to add whatever cooked vegetables tickle your fancy – this time I did kale, carrots and bean sprouts, but I’ve also done corn, cilantro and slivers of red pepper…everything will get happily acquainted in the dressing. Bits of cooked chicken or curlicues of shrimp would go well too.
Sesame Soba Noodle Salad
makes A LOT
3-4 bundles of soba noodles (you know how in a package they bundle the noodles with strips of paper? Yeah, those bundles.)
1 bundle of kale
1 handful bean sprouts
some cilantro, parsley, or green onion, if it tickles your fancy
(This is where it gets tricky: I have never measured anything that went into this dressing, obviously, so everything listed below is prefaced with “approximately” – that means that you should feel free to tinker with the quantities to suit your taste.)
1/3 cup tamari/soy sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/3 cup mirin (or 3 tbsp sugar)
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
a good handful of sesame seeds (white or black)
First, begin with boiling the noodles in plenty of salted water. Meanwhile, deal with the vegetables: julienne the carrots, rip the kale leaves off the stems (discard stems or use for something else), and roughly chop the bean sprouts into 1 inch lengths. Heat a small tablespoon of vegetable oil in a frying pan, and toss in the carrots and kale. Stir occasionally, adding a splash of water to help the carrots to cook. When the carrots are tender but retain a slight bite, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bean sprouts. By this time the noodles are probably tender (10 minutes or so), so drain them and rinse in cold water. Tip the noodles and vegetables into a large mixing bowl (as well as the cilantro, etc. if using), and pour over the components of the dressing.
Now, here is the most important part of this whole process: the best and most thorough way to mix everything together is with your hands. Get right in there and squidge the noodles between your fingers to make them shorter so it’ll be easier to dole out to your guests when you use something civilized, like tongs. Imagine you are shampooing the tresses of some fairytale creature. Mixing noodles with your hands is a sensual experience with a tinge of vulgarity, and should not be missed. Best to do this when you are alone in the kitchen, so you can fully appreciate the moment without interruption, or the detracting comments of those hinged on hygiene.
I think this tastes best at room temperature, which is what it will be after you mix everything together. It lasts very well in the fridge, making it an excellent candidate for a packed lunch. Garnish with an extra sprinkle of sesame seeds, and enjoy.