It's the middle of January and in Chicago winter has finally arrived. Snow has been falling for a few days now coating everything with 5 inches or so. Temps are in the teens with single digit wind chills. I was beginning to think that we were going to miss winter this year but mother nature said, "Not so fast." It doesn't mean that I can't try to will spring here early, though...
I was at the grocery store, stocking up on things before the weather hit, when I thought maybe I can help spring get here sooner by making something a bit lighter over the weekend. The tuna looked great and thought some grilled tuna with soba noodles would be a nice break from the comfort foods of midwest winters. :-)
I'm sure you've had soba noodles during the summer months with their nutty flavor that grab onto a dressing to give whatever they are served with a lift. If you haven't tried to make them at home, you should as they are delicious and easy to prepare (just like making pasta).
Soba noodles look like whole-wheat spaghetti but are made with buckwheat. Buckwheat has many health benefits similar to other whole grains. It's a good source of fiber and it offers eight essential amino acids making it a complete protein perfect for vegetarians. Buckwheat is a great source for manganese and thiamine, too. Some manufacturers add wheat flour so make sure to check that your package says 100% buckwheat and does not list wheat flour as an ingredient before buying.
Preparing soba noodles is really no different than making pasta. A few exceptions: don't add salt to the water, don't overcook, and rinse the noodles well after cooking.
Probably the main complaint when making soba noodles at home are that they get gummy after cooking. This usually means you didn't rinse the noodles at all or not enough. Some recipes refer to "washing" the noodles and this is a good visual. You need to do more than just rinse them. You really need to get your hands on them and make sure that starch washes off.
A cold noodle salad is a common way to serve soba noodles. Adding a light but flavorful dressing to the noodles is a nice compliment their nutty flavor and goes with most proteins and vegetables. (Note: you can also use them in broth soups but I was clearly wanting a summer dish on this winter night)
I pretty much wing what I put into the salad and the dressing but wrote down what I used over the weekend below. What goes into your dish is really your creation. The tuna I found in the store looked great and knew grilling it with a pepper and sesame crust would go great sliced over the noodles. You can keep the noodle salad simple and make it vegetarian by adding shredded carrots, edamame, and snap peas.
The dressing starts with three ingredients: soy sauce, sesame oil, and lime juice. What you add to this can depend on what you like in asian flavors: grated ginger, minced garlic, maybe a little chili paste.
When the soba noodles are cooked and rinsed, toss them with the dressing, a few sliced scallions and some sesame seeds. That's it! Pretty simple and quick way to a delicious meal.....even in the middle of winter!
Soba Noodle Salad
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
4 oz soba noodles
3 scallions sliced
sesame seeds (white/black) as needed
To make the dressing:
Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
To make the salad:
Prepare the soba noodles following the package instructions (typically, add to boiling water and cook at a simmer for 7-8 minutes). Rinse the noodles thoroughly after cooking to wash off excess starch.
Toss the noodles with the dressing and scallions. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.