Chilled soba noodle salad with chili-garlic vinaigrette


I created a soba noodle salad of my own after working this cookbook. I wanted to balance things to my preferences - hey, that's what cooking is all about. This is the best take-to-work lunch and make-ahead dinner party meal. Just trust me on this one.

Soba is just the Japanese word for buckwheat. It's commonly mistaken as a grain or wheat product, but, in fact, it's a plant from the rhubarb family – something along the lines of a protein-filled quinoa. So, it's gluten-free, if you're worried about that, and it has an interesting, earthy nuttiness that balances well with a tangy, slightly spicy vinaigrette.

The soba noodles, like the chili garlic sauce listed as an ingredient in the vinaigrette, can be found in the Asian food section of most grocery stores and is definitely available at Whole Foods and the world's greatest grocery store, Central Market.

This recipe serves 4 portions as a main course and about 6-8 portions as a side dish.

What to know

Like revenge, this is a dish best served cold. And, remarkably, it just gets tastier the longer it marinates in the vinaigrette. Extra vinaigrette can be used to marinate sliced cucumbers or as a sauce or dip with chicken or fish.

What you need

1 9.5 oz package soba noodles, like Hakubaku Organic Soba

1/4 cup chili-garlic sauce, like Lee Kum Kee or Huy Fong brand

1/4 rice wine vinegar

3 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp sugar or honey

2 tbsp peanuts, roughly chopped, to garnish (optional)

How to do it

Boil water in a large pot.

While waiting for the water to boil, whisk together chili garlic sauce, vinegar, oil and sugar or honey in a small mixing bowl. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Cook soba noodles as prescribed on the noodle's packaging. While the noodles boil, prepare an ice bath (a large mixing bowl that is 2/3 water and 1/3 ice). Transfer the cooked noodles into the ice bath. 

Once the noodles are chilled, about 5 minutes, move into a serving bowl. Toss the noodles with the chili garlic vinaigrette.

Garnish the noodles with peanuts and serve. In addition to peanuts, you can also garnish with halved soft-boiled eggs and avocado slices.

Store covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.