This spicy Asian vegetable salad with soba noodles is a wonderful light lunch or supper with the added bonus of nutritious ingredients. It can be ready to eat in less than 20 minutes.
Soba noodles are Japanese noodles made of buckwheat flour and wheat flour. They are roughly as thick as spaghetti, and prepared in hot and cold dishes. The most basic soba dish is called zaru soba in which boiled, cold soba noodles are eaten with a soya based dipping sauce.
Like pasta, soba noodles are available in dried form in supermarkets, but they taste best if freshly made by hand from flour and water. Learning to make soba has become a tourist activity, forming part of a visit to Japan. Which is odd, since soba only contains two ingredients: flour and water.
But technique creates the authenticity. To start, look for soba noodles at the supermarket.
Soba Noodle Vegetable Salad
1 each red and yellow pepper, cut into thin julienne strips
1 small handful of snow peas, cut into thin julienne strips
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) diced pineapple (about 1/3 fresh pineapple)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
50 ml (1/4 cup) smooth peanut butter, at room temperature
22 ml (1 1/2 tbsp) rice wine vinegar
15 ml (1 tbsp) each lime juice and low-sodium soy sauce
15 ml (1 tbsp) finely minced ginger
10 ml (2 tsp) sesame oil
2 to 5 ml (1/2 to 1 tsp) hot Chinese chili garlic sauce
250 g (8 oz) soba noodles
125 ml (1/2 cup) shredded fresh mint or chopped coriander
50 ml (1/4 cup) unsalted peanuts
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare vegetables and pineapple and place in a large bowl. In a food processor, whirl peanut butter with vinegar, lime juice, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, 2 ml (1/2 tsp) chili garlic sauce. Turn into a bowl. Whisk in 30 to 75 ml (3 to 5 tbsp) water to make a thick dressing.
Add soba noodles to boiling water. Cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold running water until no longer hot. Drain very well and pat dry. Place in bowl with vegetable mixture. Toss with dressing and mint. Mix to combine. For a spicier salad, add remaining chili sauce. Sprinkle each serving with peanuts and a wedge of lime for squeezing over top.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.