Who do I sound like? (Martha Stewart, please don't sue me haha).
As the weather gets warmer, I am craving soba noodles with the traditionally served dipping sauce. My first exposure was eating them at Soba-Ya in NY. We ordered so much food (nothing new there, honestly), but the soba noodles stood out the most. And they were obviously a point of pride for the restaurant, because there was a chef making and cutting the noodles in a display area for everyone to see. This was the real deal. The noodles were served with tempura shrimp and vegetables, as well as a yummy dipping sauce. After we were done eating our noodles, the waitress would come by and pour boiling water into the remaining sauce so that we had a nice sipping broth.
The ritual of picking up the noodles, dipping them in the broth/sauce, and slurping them up , and then sipping the hot broth at the end felt very calming and restorative. Anything meal that feels like an experience, I am down.
Houston doesn't have very many places that serve soba like this. After my trips to the art museum, I would stop by Nippon Japanese Restauarant (on Montrose) just to sit at the bar and order their soba. That was basically how I fulfilled my craving. Just imagine when I realized (probably later than I would have liked) that I could just buy these ingredients and make them at home. Both the noodles and dipping broth were readily available at the Japanese Grocery store, so why not? Saving money and getting to eat soba? Yaaaaaaaaaaaas.
So, what is soba? They are thin noodles made from buckwheat, or a combination of buckweat and wheat flours. They can be served hot or cold. Traditionally, they are served cold with a dipping sauce, which you can purchase or make at home. Accompaniments include dried nori (seaweed) and scallions. Since it is a cold dish, it's perfect to eat during warmer weather. I guess that's one reason to be grateful for Houston's heat! Although I enjoy the cold noodles + dipping sauce combo the most, soba is very versatile and can be used in a variety of ways, like in the salad recipe that I will share later in this post.
So- any health benefits? If you purchase noodles that are 100% buckwheat- then rejoice, these noodles are gluten free! The buckwheat flower is a good source of proteim, fiber, iron, carbohydrates, thiamine, and manganese. For more information about the health benefits of soba, read about them here.
Where can you find soba? They are generally available in most grocery stores, although the international sections in HEB, Central Market, and Whole Foods would be your best bet. I purchased my noodles at Nippon Daido in Houston- I will provide the address below. While you can make your own dipping sauce broth, I purchased mine as well, and keep it in the fridge so that I have a tasty meal at my fingertips in just five minutes.
The inspiration for today's recipe came from the back of the soba package- I just modified it a bit. This soba noodle salad with cucumber and smoked salmon is best served chilled, making it a perfect lunch option. It only takes 10 minutes to prepare, from start to finish. You don't need to add any salt in this recipe- the dressing and the salmon take care of all of that- plus it provides a powerful punch of flavor. The cucumber adds a crunchy and refreshing texture to this summer dish.
Salmon, Soba, and Cucumber Salad
- 1 cup of soba noodles (each package contains three sectioned sets of soba, use 1)
- 1/2 cucumber, cut into slices.
- 6oz of salmon, cut into strips
- 1 spring onion, finely chopped
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tbsp of sesame oil
- 1 tsp of grated garlic
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 1.5 tbsp of soy sauce
- Lemon/lime wedges for garnish
- Cook the soba noodles according to package directions. Submerge in ice water drain, and set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- In a bowl whisk together the lime juice, garlic, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil.
- In a large bowl, combine the noodles, cucumber, half of the spring onion, smoked salmon, and the dressing. Toss to combine.
- Serve with a garnish of spring onion and extra lemon/lime.
11146 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77042