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

Raspberry and Peach Frozen Greek Yogurt

Loaf pan full of bright magenta frozen Greek  yogurt on a red table cloth.

This frozen Greek yogurt was adapted as a sort of healthy alternative to regular ice cream and has become a staple in my freezer ever since I decided on this frozen fruit combination as my favourite. When I say “healthy” I suppose what I actually mean is less sweet, as I find most store bought ice cream and frozen yogurt cloyingly so.  I’ve almost completely lost my sweet tooth over the last couple of years so being able to adjust the added sugar is perfect. I prefer to let the tart flavours of the raspberries, lime juice, and Greek yogurt really shine, but feel free to use vanilla yogurt instead of plain and an extra generous amount of maple syrup (or honey!). This makes a generous amount so keep any leftovers frozen in a container – if it becomes too hard to scoop just let it thaw a little bit, pop it back into the food processor for a quick blitz, and then serve. I like to top mine with fresh or frozen raspberries, grated dark chocolate, and shredded coconut.

raspberry and peach frozen greek yogurt:

2 cups frozen peaches

1 cup frozen raspberries

Juice of half a lime

1/2 cup of plain or vanilla Greek yogurt (or slightly more depending on how fruit concentrated you’d like your frozen yogurt to be)

2 Tbsp. maple syrup

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until smooth. This usually takes a few minutes and involves a combination of patience and stopping the machine every 30 seconds or so to scrape down the sides.
  2. Pour the frozen yogurt into a loaf pan and smooth with a spatula. Freeze for at least an hour; if it’s very firm when you take it out of the freezer defrost for 10 minutes before serving.

I’m having one of those weeks (so far… it’s still only Monday) where EVERYTHING is making me feel agitated. Being in my head right now is nothing but a steady stream of complaining, swearing, complaining, and being a straight up curmudgeon. I thought I was going to start screaming on the crowded bus home tonight when no one would move to the back of the bus, I’m surprised I haven’t broken any teeth from gritting them so tightly. Luckily, I have Stan Getz providing the official score to this crabby swing in my mood. How can you explode when you have this to draw you back in?

Stan Getz – Body and Soul

 

Fresh Fig and Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

A tray full of pink fig and blueberry frozen yogurt covered with dried blueberries.It wasn’t until a few years ago that I fell in love with fresh figs, even then the path to get there was full of resistance. In truth, I can’t stand dried figs. Maybe this all stems from childhood, during the wild heyday of Fig Newtons. For some reason my mom refused to buy them and I would leverage trades with my lunch mates for the contraband Fig Newtons. The reason that I wanted one of these cookies up until that point was that I was sure it was filled with chocolate, not horribly seedy dried fig paste. You can imagine my surprise the first time I actually tasted a fresh fig, they have such a soft and delicate flavour, like bursting sweet bulbs full of sangria coloured fruit. I buy them up as I find them in mid-summer, quartering and freezing any excess figs before they become too soft. When frozen, they’re absolutely wonderful in salad dressing, smoothies, and homemade frozen yogurt, their pulpy pink interiors providing a creamy, thickening effect in your recipe. The dried blueberries are wonderfully chewy once frozen and then slightly defrosted but are not crucial to the overall success of the recipe.

case of green fresh figs

fresh fig and blueberry frozen yogurt:

1 cup frozen fresh figs, quartered

1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries

2 Tbsp. honey + more for drizzling

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1/2 cup dried blueberries

Combine all of the ingredients except for the dried blueberries in a food processor and blitz until a cohesive creamy texture. This might take a few minutes and include several rounds of scraping the sides down with a rubber spatula. Fold in the dried blueberries and transfer to a loaf baking tin in the freezer. Freeze for at least another 1/2 hour before topping with a small or generous amount of drizzled honey.

Pikauba with Fresh Figs on a plate

Bright bowl of fruit salad with figs, plums, and nectarines

Plate of fresh Brillat-Savarin with fresh figs.

 

It feels like fall here tonight, if only fleetingly (despite a fondness for summer fruit I am most at home nestled into a pile of pillows and books on a rainy autumn Sunday afternoon). Fall means the sadness of Broadcast and the warm coat of melancholia it inspires, if only in the most nostalgic sense of the word.

Broadcast – Corporeal