I've always loved eating Japanese soba noodles in soup, but these chewy noodles also make for a great cold or room-temperature salad. Soba soaks up dressing readily, while still keeping its texture. Thanks to that sturdiness and versatility, it's a great base for experimentation with a number of mix-ins. In this rendition, the surprise ingredient is silky smoked salmon.
I like noodle salads to contain greens and protein if possible so that they can be one-dish meals for lunch or dinner. I use baby spinach here because it wilts so quickly that all I do have to do is throw it into the pot of soba noodles at the end of cooking and drain both together.
Soba noodles can clump if not served in broth, but a quick rinse in cold water stops the cooking and prevents sticking. From there, toss the soba with a fast miso-honey dressing, some fresh ginger, and crunchy cucumber slices. Finish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds, scallions, and salty smoked salmon. That's how you make an elegant noodle salad that's ready to go for lunch, a picnic, or a light dinner in less than 30 minutes.
Smoked Salmon Soba Noodle Salad
8 ounces dried soba noodles
2 cups loosely packed baby spinach
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup red miso paste
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari
3 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 medium English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the soba and cook according to package directions. When the noodles are cooked, remove the pot from the heat. Add the spinach and stir until just wilted. Drain the noodles and spinach in a colander and rinse under cold water until cool, then drain again and let sit in the colander to drain off as much excess water as possible.
Wipe the pot dry. Add the oil and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the miso, vinegar, honey, and soy and whisk to form a thick paste. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl.
Add the soba, spinach, salmon, and cucumber to the bowl, and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the green onions and sesame seeds before serving.
- Gluten-free: To keep this dish gluten-free, make sure your soba contains 100 percent buckwheat, and use tamari instead of soy sauce.