Recipe: Citrus-sesame soba

I’m in full-on “use up everything in the pantry” mode, and it’s been really hot out recently. Between those two facts, I knew was time for a nice cold soba dish. The last time I cooked soba, it was one of my favorite dinners I’ve made in Cambridge.

Getting ready for a lot of chopping and stirring!
Getting ready for a lot of chopping and stirring!

For this version, I wanted to be seasonal again, both with my cooking methods and my vegetables, so I swapped out blanching for roasting, and included spring onions, sugar snap (or “mangetout”) peas, bok choi, and cucumber instead of broccolini and roasted mushrooms. The sauce is based on the citrus-sesame tofu marinade in this Food52 recipe, and most of the technique is based on a simple recipe from The Kitchn.

Blanched veggies tossed in citrus-sesame sauce.
Blanched veggies tossed in citrus-sesame sauce.

How did it turn out? Well, I forgot to stir my soba when it was cooking, so it clumped together as it cooked…but it all tasted good! It’s very fresh and late spring/early summery, with a high vegetable-to-noodle ratio that I really appreciate. Blanching the vegetables softens them so they mix well with the noodles, but doesn’t cook them so much that they lose their flavor. Even though it wasn’t very hot today, I enjoyed my bowl of cold soba and vegetables (topped with some chopped chicken breast that I marinated in lemon juice, soy sauce, and ginger paste, then stir-fried) very much!

Yet another tasty meal-in-a-bowl! (I added some chicken and Sriracha after taking this, but thought I should only show the recipe I had written).
Yet another tasty meal-in-a-bowl! (I added the chicken and some Sriracha after taking this).

Citrus-Sesame Soba

Yield: ~6 servings.

Adapted from: Food52 and The Kitchn.

4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, sliced into matchsticks
1 carrot, shaved into ribbons
3 bell peppers, thinly sliced
200 g snap peas
2 bok choy, sliced into ribbons

8-9 oz soba noodles

Sauce:
2 Tbsp sesame oil
Juice of 1 small orange
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp tamari
2 tsp grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp maple syrup
2 tsp Sriracha or 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp rice vinegar

Fill a medium-sized sauce pan with water and bring it to a boil. Drop the carrots into the boiling water. Blanch the carrots for 30-60 seconds (depending on how cooked you like them) and then lift them out with a slotted spoon or small strainer. Run the carrots under cold water to stop the cooking and then empty them into a medium-sized bowl. Let the water come back to a boil

Repeat blanching as described above for the bell peppers, sugar snap peas (blanch them whole for 1-2 minutes, then cool and slice in half lengthwise), and sliced bok choy.

Let the water come to a boil again and cook the soba noodles according to package instructions (usually 5-8 minutes, until al dente; and make sure you stir!). Strain the noodles and wash them thoroughly in cold water to remove the starch and cool them down.

Whisk together the sauce ingredients, adjusting quantities to taste. Pour half of sauce over vegetables and toss gently to coat. If serving immediately, add soba and remaining sauce and toss gently. If making ahead, keep noodles, vegetables, and extra sauce separate until just before service. (I don’t like having pasta sit in the fridge surrounded by a lot of liquid; it tends to break down.)

Serving suggestion: Cold, topped with toasted sesame seeds, cilantro, and/or hot sauce. For extra protein, add stir-fried chicken breast or a poached egg.

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