The day last week that I made this Peanut Soba Noodle Salad turned into a bit of a madhouse. The noodle salad is a variation on a dish that I make regularly and can do with my eyes closed, so my plan was to whip it up and photograph it while W was having her nap, and then when she woke up we’d share it for lunch.
Things didn’t quite go according to plan. Firstly, I had a bunch of rhubarb in the fridge too, so on a whim I decided that I’d also put together a crumble (recipe coming soon!) and that while it was in the oven I’d make the peanut soba noodles. Two birds, one stone. By the time I got around to making the noodles, the kitchen was already quite a mess (I hadn’t cleaned up the breakfast dishes yet) and bench space was becoming scarce. Rather than stop, do a quick load of dishes, and clear a space, I decided to forge ahead with the noodles, making even more mess and balancing bowls and all manner of things precariously on top one another.
I had the peanut sauce ready, the noodles rinsing in cold water and was just chopping the last of the veges when W woke up from her nap, almost an hour earlier than usual. I was watching a TED talk on my computer and the water was running, so I was lucky to even hear her calling out over the noise. Unluckily, I was chopping red chilli at the time so had to wash my hands before going to W – by the time I went to get her out of bed she was having a little howl, poor love.
At this point my phone rang with a call from a journalist wanting to do a quick interview about my festival. Over the sounds of W’s sobs while frantically flipping through my diary, I rescheduled with her. Needless to say, the cooking had been on hold this whole time while I changed and cuddled and calmed W, and I had my doubts by the time I got back into the kitchen that anything would still be worth photographing, let alone eating.
Thankfully, I was wrong. The noodles, much to my surprise, hadn’t stuck together in one clump and the peanut sauce was still a good stir-able consistency. The crumble (which I would have totally forgotten about did it not smell so delicious) was not burnt, but rather was perfectly browned and crisped. Now that she was calm W happily and patiently played on the floor with a pile of plastic containers while I compiled and photographed. We then ate together, me hungrily stuffing my face, W excitedly splattering peanut noodles all over herself, her highchair, and the floor. I didn’t care though – lunch was delicious, W was in a great mood, and the mess in the kitchen could wait till later.
This Peanut Soba Noodle Salad is my kind of meal. It is easy to put together, healthy, and – the most important component – super tasty. I cook a variation on this quite regularly for dinner when we’re tired and looking for something light and easy. Anything with peanut butter in it wins me over, but what I love about this salad is how the creaminess of the peanut sauce is offset so perfectly by the fresh crunchy veges and the nutty soba noodles. If you’re looking for some extra protein, a few slices of grilled tofu go sublimely with this salad. Either way, this is the kind of meal that can do no wrong.
Peanut Soba Noodle Salad
¼ cup peanut butter
½ tbsp rice wine vinegar
½ tbsp. tamari
1 tbsp sesame oil
½ tbsp. mirin
pinch brown sugar
1 – 2 tbsps water, to thin
90gm soba noodles
2 spring onions
½ a lebanese cucumber
1 red chilli
Handful fresh coriander
¼ cup roasted peanuts
Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients, except for the water, in a small bowl or jar and whisking together. If your sauce is too thick, add the water a bit at a time to thin (I used 1 tbsp of water). You don’t want it too thin, but it needs to be stir-able. Set aside.
Put a pot of water to boil and cook your soba noodles according to the instructions on the packet – see below for my tips on cooking soba noodles.
While your noodles are cooking, prepare your veges. Top and tail the snowpeas and slice thinly on the diagonal. Halve your cucumber lengthways, cut out the soft seeded middle, and slice into half-rounds. Finely slice the spring onion (using both the white and green sections) and the chilli. Roughly chop the peanuts, either with a knife or in a mortar & pestle.
When the soba noodles are ready, rinse them under cold water. Dish them evenly into two bowls, halve the peanut sauce across both bowls, and mix thoroughly through the noodles. Top with the chopped veges, finishing with the coriander, sliced chillies, and a scattering of crushed peanuts.
Tips on cooking soba noodles: for the longest time, my soba noodles would come out on one sticky noodle clump. After a bit of research, I learned that this was the high starch content. I tried a few methods – rinsing the noodles before cooking, cooking at a simmer rather than a boil, but have found this one to be the most foolproof. Make sure you use a nice big pot and fill it only half full of water. Bring to the boil and add the noodles. Each time the water comes to boiling point again, add a cup of cold water. When your noodles are cooked, rinse them thoroughly under cold running water. This method does take a little bit longer, but it is still fairly fast and works like a charm!