Recipe: Sesame Soba Salad

Soba Salad

Summer has arrived!  Typically I love summer and the warm weather it brings because it means firing up the grill, enjoying refreshing cocktails outside, and lounging next to the beach or pool.  However, Shanghai summers bring heat, humidity and mosquitos which means you’ll usually find me hiding indoors wherever there is A/C.  When it’s extra hot out, the last thing I think about is a big, heavy meal.  This next recipe is a cold noodle salad that I love to make because it’s light, healthy and great for cooling you down on hot summer days.

I made this soba salad vegetarian but you can certainly add shredded chicken or even sliced seared tuna and it would still turn out great.  As with any salad, making substitutions is easy and you can add as many or as few of the ingredients as you like.

First, grab a red bell pepper and slice it thinly.

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Boil and shuck about a half pound of fresh or frozen edamame.

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Julienne a cucumber by slicing the whole cucumber diagonally first to make larger pieces.  Then stack the slices and cut them into thin strips.

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Now that you’ve got the red bell peppers and cucumbers sliced, chop up about 1/4 cup of green onions and cilantro.

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For a shortcut, I like to use pre-bagged coleslaw that has a mix of green and red cabbage and carrots.  You can certainly slice up your own with a mandolin if you like but I don’t have a mandolin so hooray for shortcuts!

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Get your buckwheat soba ready and start a pot of boiling water.  You can substitute spaghetti or egg noodles if you like.  I think even rice noodles would work too.  Once your soba is cooked to al dente, rinse under cold running water and drain well.

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Make the dressing: peanut butter, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, light soy sauce, chili sauce, garlic and ginger.  You can substitute red pepper flakes for the chili sauce if needed.

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Pulse all the ingredients in a food processor until creamy.  If you don’t have a food processor you can give the garlic and ginger a good ol’ mince and then whisk everything together in a bowl.

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Toss everything in a large mixing bowl before plating and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Crispy wonton skins would be a great topping too!  I just love the vibrant colors in this summer salad!  Enjoy!

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Soba Summer Salad:
Prep time: 30 min | Cook time: 10 min | Serves: 4

• 1/2 pound (227g) cooked soba noodles
• peanut dressing (recipe below)
• 1 bag (200g) of cole slaw (mix of green & red cabbage, carrots)
• 1/2 Japanese cucumber (90g), julienne
• 1 large red bell pepper, julienne
• 1/2 pound (227g) edamame, boiled and shucked
• 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
• 1/4 cup chopped green onions
• sesame seeds

In a large bowl, slowly add the dressing to the soba until the sauce has evenly coated the noodles.  There may be leftover dressing so just mix to taste.  Mix in the other ingredients and toss.  Garnish with extra cilantro, green onions and sesame seeds.  Serve immediately.

Sesame Dressing:

• 2 1/2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
• 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon agave syrup
• 1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
• 1 1/2 teaspoons Asian chili garlic sauce or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
• 1 cloves garlic
• 1/4 inch piece ginger

Place all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until the garlic and ginger is finely minced and incorporated into the other ingredients. If you don’t have a blender or food processor, finely mince the garlic and ginger and whisk by hand in a bowl.  Any leftover dressing can be refrigerated.

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