Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Otsu: Cold Soba Noodle salad


One of our boys, J, lives with a wonderful young woman, M, who passed on one of their favorite recipes, Otsu.  I will admit that I was reluctant to try this recipe at first because it has soba noodles, otherwise known as buckwheat noodles.  I had never tried soba noodles, so I was hesitant at first, but after preparing this recipe I can say it is a delightful noodle salad.  It has substance, a bit of a kick to it, and yet refreshing.  It is a great summer salad. This recipe is adapted from Pomelo restaurant in San Francisco and thanks to M for passing it on to me.  And yes, my tasting partner thought it was outstanding.

recipe after the jump

Otsu  (cold soba noodle salad)

Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 ½ inch fresh ginger, peeled, and grated
1 ½ tablespoon honey
3/4 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup unseasoned brown-rice vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce (or use shoyu sauce for a wheat-free soy sauce)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
12 ounces dried soba noodles
12 ounces extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 small handful of cilantro sprigs, for garnish
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Prepare the dressing by combining the zest, ginger, honey, cayenne, and salt in a food processor (or use a hand blender) and process until smooth. Add the lemon juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce, and pulse to combine. With the machine running, drizzle in the oils.

Cook the soba in plenty of rapidly boiling salted water just until tender, then drain and rinse under cold running water.

While the pasta is cooking, drain the tofu, pat it dry, and cut it into rectangles about ½ inch thick and 1 inch long. Cook the tofu in a dry nonstick (or well-seasoned) skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until the pieces are browned on one side. Toss gently once or twice, then continue cooking for another minute or so, until the tofu is firm, golden, and bouncy.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the soba, the ¼ cup cilantro, the green onions, cucumber, and about ⅔ cup of the dressing. Toss until well combined. Add the tofu and toss again gently. Serve on a platter, garnished with the cilantro sprigs and the toasted sesame seeds.

Serves 4-6.

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