Otsu (Soba Noodle Salad)
(recipe, Heidi Swanson)
If you want this dish to be gluten-free, buy soba noodles made with 100 percent buckwheat.
As for the leftover dressing, I suggest tossing it with salad greens, grated carrots, diced avocado, and toasted sesame seeds for a zesty green salad.
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- Fresh ginger, cut into a 1-inch cube, peeled, and grated
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- ¾ tsp. cayenne
- ¾ tsp. fine-grain sea salt
- 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ cup unseasoned brown-rice vinegar
- ⅓ cup shoyu sauce (wheat-free soy sauce)
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
- 12 oz. dried soba noodles
- 12 oz. extra-firm nigari tofu
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- ½ cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 1 small handful of cilantro sprigs, for garnish
- ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
- Make 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 shoyu, 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 roughly the size of your thumb (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.
Culinate editor's note: To use 3/4 teaspoon of cayenne would make an intensely spicy salad. When I made this dish, I reduced the cayenne to 1/4 teaspoon and cut back on the salt as well. A tablespoon of prepared miso mixed into the dressing is delicious as well.