Simple Cold Soba Noodle Salad

Salad bowl full of simple cold soba noodle salad with cilantro, cucumber, and chilies.

I always pine for the summer during colder months, but I also always realize almost immediately that I’m not very good at dealing with the heat. In Vancouver very few people have air conditioning in their apartments so when the first 30 degree day hits I can feel myself melting despite sitting in front of a floor fan in a bathing suit. This past Sunday was exactly that kind of day and I can’t say I felt any real inclination to turn my oven on at all. Instead, I read recipes for cold noodle salads and day dreamed about slurping soba noodles in a cool living room. One out of two isn’t bad at all and with about 20 minutes of prep time my noodle fantasies became reality. The nice thing about cold noodle salads is that they’re largely composed of ingredients you might already have in your pantry, and the things you might not have on hand can readily be switched out to accommodate. I love a really tangy and spicy dressing so I’ve included lots of acidity and heat in this recipe, feel free to tone down (or tone up!) if you’re so inclined. You can add any other crunchy vegetables you feel like, too. For example, thinly sliced carrots, daikon, slivered bok choy, mung bean sprouts, and fresh mint are all happy additions to this salad. Poached chicken or shrimp is also ideal if you want to make this a complete meal and can be mixed right in or added when you’re ready to serve the salad.

simple cold soba noodle salad:

1 package soba noodles

1 + 2 Tbsp. dark sesame oil

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

Juice of 2 limes

2 Tbsp. mirin or sherry

1-2 Tbsp. grated ginger or ginger from a jar

1-2 Tbsp. sambal oelek

1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. black sesame seeds

2 bunches of scallions, both the white and green parts sliced thin

1 English cucumber, sliced into very thin quarter moons

1 big handful of cilantro, loosely torn

  1. Cook the soba noodles in boiling water for about 5 minutes, or according to package directions. Drain the soba noodles and rinse with cold water to prevent them from cooking any further. Place the noodles into a salad bowl and drizzle with 1 Tbsp. of the sesame oil, using your hands to coat the noodles evenly (this will prevent them from sticking together). Transfer the bowl to the fridge and allow the noodles to get cold.
  2. While the soba noodles are cooling, whisk together the rest of the sesame oil, soy sauce, lime juice, mirin or sherry, ginger, sambal oelek, rice wine vinegar, garlic, and sesame seeds. Do a taste test and adjust the seasonings accordingly.
  3. Once the soba noodles are completely cool toss in the dressing, scallions, cucumber, and cilantro. Again, use your hands to fully incorporate all of the ingredients and evenly coat with the dressing. Serve immediately or over the next few days, for a more filling option add shrimp or shredded chicken.

I’m filling my ears with beauty lately, I think it’s all the walking I’ve been doing. There’s something so completely reassuring about an outer world inhabited inwardly with gorgeous sound. It’s nice, too, listening to this when I’m cooking something simple like soba noodle salad on a hot day. It’s like having a tiny place all to myself where I can create worlds and worlds of new flavour, but quietly (if that makes sense). I like feeling cocooned in music and Aphex Twin is the surest way to feel wrapped up in the softest threads (at least if it’s this Aphex Twin, other Aphex Twin is like being electrically jolted out of safety).

Aphex Twin – Xtal