This easy gluten-free and vegan salad is perfect any time of the year and doesn’t use too many exotic ingredients. Once you get your hands on some soba noodles and soy sauce, the rest can be substituted without going to a specialised store.
What is soba?
Soba noodles are made from buckwheat. The name, soba, is taken from the Japanese word for buckwheat where the noodles are commonly eaten. Buckwheat is a complete protein and thus contains all the essential amino acids which the human body can’t make itself.
Despite the name, buckwheat is not in the wheat family and is actually more related to rhubarb. It is the seeds which are used as a grain. If you are avoiding gluten, check the pack you are buying to make sure it does not contain gluten, as sometimes the process of making the grains into noodles involves the use of flour.
Buckwheat noodles are also used in China, Korea and Italy. In addition, the seeds are commonly used as a grain substitute as well, such as for making porridge, flour or tea in Western Asia, South Asia and Eastern Europe. In recent times, they have also been used to make gluten-free beer.
Soba salad prep
This soba salad is inspired by Japanese flavours and is relatively easy to put together. It just involves some preparation of the various vegetables to accompany the soba noodles. If you can spiralise the vegetable or use a peeler on it, you can probably add it to the salad.
I’ve added carrots and courgette as well as a few peas and edamame to mine to give a bit of a different texture to the salad. Cool everything that needs cooking, then mix the ingredients together and add the dressing.
You can make this ahead of time but if you will not be consuming the salad within 24 hours, I suggest separating the dressing and mixing it in just before eating. This is because the noodles can start to get really soggy if it sits in the dressing for too long.
Feel free to diverge from the measurements used in the dressing. If you want a saltier dressing, use more soy sauce or tamari. Want more sourness? Add more vinegar. More sweetness? Add more mirin or sugar.
- 1 pack soba noodles, around 200-300g (can be gf) (I use Hakubaku organic soba noodles)
- 2 courgettes or 1 cucumber, spiralised
- 2 large carrots, sliced thinly using a peeler
- 85 g peas
- 1 handful edamame (optional)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped thinly (optional)
- 2 spring onions, chopped thinly (optional)
- 1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds (black, white or both)
- 2 tbsp sesame oil (I use Yeo's)
- 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari (gf) (I use Kikkoman's Organic soy)
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar (usually gf) (I use Mizkan rice vinegar)
- 1 tbsp mirin (usually gf) or white wine vinegar and ¼ tsp sugar (I use Hon Mirin rice wine)
- Cook the soba noodles according to the packet, then rinse under cold water and leave to cool
- Cook frozen peas according to the packet, then rinse under cold water and also leave this to cool
- Spiralise the courgette or if you don't have one, take a vegetable peeler and peel long strips of courgette so it looks like noodles
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrots and then use the peeler to peel long strips of carrot so it also looks like noodles
- Slice the red bell pepper and spring onions thinly if using
- In a pan, dry roast some sesame seeds on low heat if they are not already roasted, then set aside
- Mix the sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and mirin together in a bowl to form the dressing
- Put all your vegetables and noodles together in a large bowl and add the dressing and roasted sesame seeds. Mix well with tongs or your hand.
- Taste and add more soy sauce if you want a saltier taste. Add more vinegar if you want more sourness. Add more mirin or sugar if you want it sweeter
- Serve the salad cold