I was originally thinking of posting another soup recipe this week since our “soup season” here in the Great White North has been greatly extended this year. However, I changed my mind at the last minute and opted for this Soba Salad instead...something I call “a prelude to spring”. It’s my way of being more positive with the tail end of our long Canadian winter. I love to say the line “I dream of spring” and most Torontians will probably agree with me. As I write this post, it snowed heavily overnight and then it turned wet and very slushy all day. My beautiful niece Mailelani from Dallas would actually love to come and play with all our snow. If I had the power, I would make our families switch places now...even for just a week. That would be an awesome break except for my Canadian teenager who loves winter so much! Although it's not possible for her now, I really hope that one day Mailelani will be able to experience a small part of our winter.
Soba: this is the Japanese name for buckwheat and is also synonymous with the noodle made from buckwheat flour. Some fun facts about this noodle or buckwheat:
-buckwheat is not really related to wheat at all; not a grain but considered a fruit seed related to the rhubarb family
- soba is gluten free according to the Celiac Association of Canada as long as it's 100% made of buckwheat flour as some others maybe mixed with wheat
- they are a good source of manganese and thiamin
Soba is considered the king of noodles in Japan because of its versatility: chilled with dipping sauce in the summer or hot noodle soup in the colder days. We may be familiar with the popular "zaru soba" which is basically cold soba served in a bamboo basket and eaten with a dipping sauce. My sister-in-law Asako who is from Northern Japan usually makes 'bukkake soba" a cold version (non-vegan) with toppings of okra, daikon radish, mushrooms, sometimes with natto (fermented soya beans), a Japanese yam called yamato-imo and then dashi broth (made of fish stock, kelp, dried shitake mushrooms and others) is poured over the dish. You can check her page (photos by Dex) here.
Here's my own version of soba...my quick go-to dish when I'm in a hurry or having some late nights during the week. I like to make the noodles with vegetables in order to add fibre, more nutrients and some crunch. This is great with miso soup or any other soup this time of year. With my own family's own issues of food sensitivities, this is a perfect dish that we can all enjoy and hoping that you will enjoy it too.
Ingredients: (Preferably Organic)
1 pack of 250 g. organic buckwheat noodle ( I used this brand)
2 c. purple cabbage, thinly sliced
1 carrot, julienned
8 green beans blanched for 2-3 minutes and sliced diagonally
3 green onions, sliced diagonally in thin pieces, about 1/4"
3 Tbsp. unhulled sesame seeds, dry roasted
3 Tbsp. Bragg liquid aminos
1 1/2 Tbsp. organic roasted sesame seed oil
4 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. coconut nectar or maple syrup
1/4 tsp. grated ginger
1. Wash and prep all the veggies. You can blanch the green beans in
the same boiling water that you are going to cook the noodles in to simplify the steps.
2. Dry roast the sesame seeds in a skillet or in the toaster oven.
3. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small jar and with the lid tight, shake a few times to incorporate.
4. If you want your cabbage a little softer and not too crunchy, you have the option of adding 2 Tbsp. of the dressing to the cabbage and set aside while waiting for everything to be ready. However, its not advisable to leave the dressing too long on the green beans as they will discolour.
5. Boil about 6 cups of water in a pot and briefly blanch the greens beans for about 2-3 minutes. Do not discard the water.
6. In that same pot and water, add the noodles and cook them according to package instructions and stir several times so the noodles do not stick to each other. Also, test the noodles for doneness a few times making sure they end up being al dente and not too mushy ( 6 minutes is perfect for this brand) . While the noodles are cooking, cut up the greens beans. You will notice that the cooking water turns starchy....not to worry as this is perfectly normal.
7. When noodles are ready, rinse them in cold water to drain the extra starch and to stop them from cooking any further. If you are not yet ready to assemble the salad, you can soak them in water.
8. Before serving, combine the noodles, veggies and dressing. Garnish with green onions and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
1. Snap peas or snow peas can be used in place of green beans.
2. Feel free to add more sesame seeds as they really give the dish a nice crunch and flavour.
3. Lemon can also be substituted for lime.
4. In Toronto, liquid aminos is sold as Bragg All Purpose Seasoning. Please feel free to substitute this with regular soya sauce although you may need to use less considering the salt content. For other people, nama shoyu which is unpasteurized soy sauce could also be an alternative although an expensive one.
I'm looking forward to spring and I sincerely hope you are too!