Sunday, April 8, 2012

Soba Noodle Salad

This week I realized something: I suck at grocery shopping.

I don’t suck at cooking, but I need something to cook against. I need a constraint—a limit on time or ingredients, or a request to fulfill, or a combination of dietary restrictions to take into account. Otherwise, with no rules and endless possibilities, my response is to give up and eat a cheese sandwich over the sink while swigging milk straight from the carton.

If I just had interesting food, I could cook it! But the malaise starts at the grocery store. No particular item stands out to me. They all look equally attractive; I want all of them; then, ultimately, I want none of them. Many times I’ve left even the farmer’s market empty-handed because I couldn’t decide which thing I wanted over all the others.

That’s why I’m so glad I got my CSA information in the mail this weekend. Soon someone will decide for me! Food will happen to me, I will react to it, and it will be delicious. I’m already daydreaming about the first deliveries: lettuce, radishes, spring onions, maybe some pea pods. And that’s when I realize… hey, I’m actually developing a craving for fresh things, sprouting and green…

I have to go grocery shopping!

Soba Noodle Salad
This recipe (which came off the back of a box) called for edamame, spinach, and red onion. That would be good, too; but I switched some vegetables, fixed the dressing a little, and adjusted the proportions. This will serve four people as a main course or six as a side dish.

Salad parts
1 package extra-firm tofu
A double handful of snow peas
A double handful of bean sprouts
2 scallions, sliced
Peanut or canola oil
A packgage (250g, about 8 or 9 oz) of soba noodles
1 T sesame oil
2 T crushed nori or toasted sesame seeds for garnish

3 T sesame oil
2 T rice vinegar
2 T mirin
1 t sugar or agave syrup
3 T soy sauce
½ t minced fresh ginger or 1 t minced pickled ginger

Put the tofu on a plate, put another plate on top, and put a heavy can on top of that. You’ll leave this for 15-20 minutes to press out some extra water.

Meanwhile, clean the snow peas and cut them diagonally into 1” pieces. Slice the scallions and measure out your bean sprouts. Put these all in a big bowl. Mince the ginger and mix it with the other dressing ingredients in a little bowl and set aside.

Put a pot of water on to boil.

Slice the tofu brick into four sheets, then cut the sheets into sixteenths. You’ll end up with domino-shaped pieces about 1" x 1½" x ¼".

If your water is boiling yet, then break the soba noodles in half and pop them in the pot. They will only cook for about six minutes, so watch them!

Brush a baking sheet with peanut oil. Lay each tofu slice on the sheet, then flip it over to coat it. Broil the tofu pieces until golden, about 6-8 minutes. Flip them over with chopsticks and broil until the other side is golden. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, your noodles will have finished cooking. When they’re ready, drain them in a colander and rinse them with cold water to cool them. Shake them off and toss them with 1T of sesame oil. Set aside to drain some more.

When the tofu is cool, it’s as good a time as any to mix the salad. Put the noodles and tofu in the big bowl with the vegetables and pour the dressing over them. Mix everything up well; your hands work very well. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the garnish.


  1. {mind boggling at thought of leaving farmers market empty-handed}

  2. Yeah, well if you think it hurts your head to hear about it... now imagine a boggled mind AND no groceries. Twice as bad!


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