Soba literally means “buckwheat” in Japanese and is also the name of the thin noodles made from buckwheat. Greyish purple in hue and with a nutty flavor, they’re unique in the world of noodles.
In Japan, soba is traditionally served either cold or hot with a dashi based broth, but as a noodle, soba is versatile enough to be topped with a Pomodoro or tossed in a salad like this one.
With a rich earthy dressing, sweet tomatoes, creamy avocado and verdant cilantro, soba salad well rounded in the flavor department with lots of little surprises in every bite. Add to that some tofu that’s marinated and caramelized, and you have a salad that makes for a delicious side, or a filling vegan entrée.
Aside from tasting great, soba noodles have about 40% fewer calories than wheat noodles like spaghetti, and are rich in vitamins and minerals like Thiamin and Manganese. While buckwheat itself contains no gluten, it’s often mixed with wheat flour to help bring the dough together, so be sure to read the label before buying it if that’s an issue for you.
This Japanese noodle dish has fewer calories than other pastas, and is high in vitamins and minerals. Food blogger Marc Matsumoto explains soba's nutritional value in a full post on the Fresh Tastes blog.
- 1 pack extra firm tofu (12-14oz)
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon raw sugar
- ¼ cup tahini
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 300 grams dry soba noodles (10.5 ounces)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half (170 g)
- 1 ripe avocado, cubed
- ½ lemon
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, stems removed
- 2 tbs black sesame seeds
- Slice the tofu into ¼” thick squares. Place them in a gallon-sized freezer bag and cover with ¼ cup soy sauce and 1 tablespoon sugar. Squeeze as much air out as possible and seal the bag. Marinate the tofu for 30 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, water, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, salt and white pepper.
- Heat a frying pan until hot. Add 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil, and then fry the tofu until browned on one side. Flip the tofu and brown the second side. Transfer the browned tofu to a cutting board and cut into bite-sized pieces
- Boil the soba according to the package directions. If the directions give a range of times, use the low end of the range, if there’s only one number, boil the noodles for 1 minute less than what the directions say. Drain the noodles and plunge them into a bowl of ice water to chill.
- Prepare the cherry tomatoes by washing and cutting them in half. Halve, pit, peel, then cube the avocados and sprinkle them with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Pluck the cilantro leaves from the stems, and discard the stems.
- Add the noodles, tofu, cherry tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, and black sesame to a bowl and drizzle the dressing on top. Toss everything together and serve.
- The salad will keep for up to one day in the fridge, but it is best eaten immediately as the noodles will absorb the dressing and get soft.
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.