Soba noodles are a Japanese-style noodle made with buckwheat flour. When made with 100% buckwheat, they are a good gluten-free option because buckwheat, despite its name, doesn’t actually contain any wheat. I’ve read that in Japan soba noodles are traditionally served plain with a dipping sauce on the side. I think the method is to dip and slurp, and I look forward to trying that out if I ever find myself in Japan one day.
But for my first venture into soba noodle territory, I decided to turn them into a cold salad with a sesame dressing and lots of raw kale plus other assorted veggies. Oh, I also threw in some cubes of baked tofu for good measure. It was delicious. This will definitely be going into the summer salad rotation around here.
I actually made this salad twice, using two different brands of soba noodles. The first time I used Hakubaku organic soba noodles (the no-salt added variety – you can buy a pack of 8 for only $20 on amazon!). It turns out that this brand of soba noodles is actually a blend of wheat and buckwheat. The second time I used Roland organic soba noodles (this brand did have salt added). Results were tasty both times, but I preferred the no-salt added variety from the Hakubaku brand. Those noodles were much tastier and had a better consistency, in my opinion. So, that is my amateur soba noodle report from the field.
Happy salad-making, everyone! ~Inge
Kale and soba noodle salad
Adapted from Deborah Madison’s excellent Vegetable Literacy
Instead of the Brussels sprouts, you could use baby bok choy or napa cabbage. Also, any kind of crunchy vegetable would be a nice addition to this salad. The baked tofu is optional, but a good choice if you want to bump up the protein.
6-8 ounces soba noodles
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 bunch kale
6 Brussels sprouts
5 teaspoons light sesame oil
1 large garlic clove (or two small ones)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
A few pinches of red pepper flakes
1 bunch green onions, sliced
½ cup carrots, thinly sliced
6 ounce package of baked tofu, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used Trader Joe’s teriyaki-flavored baked tofu), optional
Siracha hot sauce, optional
1. Cook the soba noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place noodles in a medium bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil. Set aside.
2. Cut the tough stems off the kale leaves. Then, thinly slice the kale using the “stack and roll” method. Stack a small amount of the leaves up, then roll and slice into thin shreds or ribbons. Put the kale ribbons in a large bowl. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of the light sesame oil. Using clean hands, squeeze the kale ribbons “until they glisten” (a quote from the original recipe – it’s the perfect description of what the massaged kale will look like).
3. Remove any yucky-looking outer leaves from your Brussels sprouts. Slice them very thinly and toss with the kale.
4. On a cutting board, mince your garlic. Then, sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon salt over the pile of minced garlic. Using the flat side of your knife, apply pressure and move the knife back and forth across the salt/garlic mixture. Doing this helps the salt break down the garlic and creates a paste. Put the garlic paste in a small bowl. Add the rice wine vinegar, remaining 4 teaspoons light sesame oil, and the soy sauce. Whisk together. Pour the dressing over the kale/Brussels sprouts mixture and toss well.
5. Add the cooked soba noodles to the greens along with the carrots, green onions, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, and tofu (if using). Toss everything together (tongs work best for this job). Taste and decide if you need more soy sauce or other seasoning. Serve with a few drops of siracha hot sauce on top, if you like things spicy!