Soba salad

This is one of my favorite things to throw together when I want something light and healthy. It’s inspired by a soba salad from CIBI, a great little café in Melbourne. It’s kind of a nice marriage between what seem like typically Italian ingredients, and Japanese flavors. There really isn’t much to this dish, just preparing the elements and then assembling everything. If you’re giving this recipe a go, please don’t skip the chopped olives! Bright green Sicilian olives are the best for this dish, and are a definite must-have.

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Ingredients (for 4, as a main)
3 bunches of dry soba noodles
A handful of rocket/arugula
1 avocado
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
1 large egg
12 green olives (Sicilian are ideal)
Toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

100ml Tsuyu (Japanese noodle base, dilluted correctly)
2tsp Japanese soy sauce (added to taste)
2tsp vegetable oil (or grapeseed, something neutral)
1/2 tsp sesame oil
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Don’t make this recipe without: olives, avocado 

All our fresh ingredients — you probably only use 2/3 of a bunch of soba for one serve because of all the extra stuff that goes with it, so 3 bunches should be plenty for 4 people as a main. I wasn’t able to find Sicilian olives at my local supermarket, but plain green olives (without stuffings/marinades) work fine as well.

 

First of all I put a pot of water on the boil. If it boils before I’m ready to cook the soba, which is the very last step – I just turn it off. Beat an egg with a touch of salt and white pepper, and heat a small pan with some vegetable oil. Wipe the excess oil with a paper towel, and use this to re-grease the pan between sheets.

 

Make sure the pan is very hot, and pour in just a little bit of egg, probably only a tablespoon or so. Spin the pan around immediately to spread the egg out as thinly and evenly as possible. It doesn’t matter if the egg makes a funny shape, as it gets cut finely anyway. Flip the egg over after a few seconds to brown the other side, and then remove from the pan. The egg should be paper thin, but not dry.

 

Here’s my pile of egg ‘paper’, one egg should yield 4-5 sheets in a small pan. Once it’s not too hot, cut finely and set aside.

 

Wash the rocket and slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Arrange them on a plate/bowl, leaving room for the soba and other elements to sit in the middle.

 

Peel and dice an avocado into 1/2″ cubes. Squeeze some lemon juice if you are preparing the elements in advance, and set aside.

 

Chop up the olives as fine as possible, and drizzle olive oil over it to form a rough paste.

 

Now for the dressing. The main component is Tsuyu (pictured on the very left), which is a soup base and is made from fish or seaweed stock, sugar and soy sauce. It’s a really good base which I often use for noodles, salads, and soups. On the bottle it tells you that this one must be dilluted by 3 parts water. So to make 100ml of the tsuyu, put 25ml of the concentrate and add 75ml water. Add vegetable oil and sesame oil. Control the sweet/salty balance by slowly adding the soy sauce, as different brands of tsuyu vary in sweetness. Be careful not to add too much sesame oil as it’s really intense stuff. It might help to think you only need a few drops per person.

 

Here’s the dressing, nice and simple. I usually serve it on the side so people can add as much as they like of it.

 

Cook the soba, following the instructions on the packet. They should be a touch over al dente, because when you chill them they firm up a little. The soba doesn’t take long at all, so everything else has to be done before the soba goes in. Once they are cooked, drain the noodles in a sieve and run cold water over them immediately until they are well chilled.

 

Assemble the dish by adding avocado, a mound of soba noodles, some egg and the chopped olives. Dress the salad lightly and offer the rest on the table to add to taste. Finish by sprinkling some toasted sesame seeds over the top. This is a dish best eaten straight away, either as a main dish or as a little appetiser. This is a vegetarian version, and can be gluten-free if you use 100% buckwheat noodles. I have added proteins in the past, roast beef or ham, even tofu — but this is my favorite basic combination.

Open printable recipe here



4 Comments

  1. K wrote:

    I was hoping you would post this :) it is so delicious! Website looks fabulous!

  2. Lilian wrote:

    All my ladies at church loved the soba salad. Can I share your recipe?