March 19, 2009

Japanese Noodle Salad with Sesame Miso Dressing

I ventured over to the Asian Farmers Market in search of the wonderful Japanese spice mixture picture below, which I first tried in LA at a place called Hide Sushi. Hide Sushi was much more traditional than most sushi I've seen in the U.S. aka no outrageous rolls garnished with "crunch' and the like. But despite my love for shrimp tempura rolls, it was wonderful, and once we sat down the line was out the door. Everything was so fresh and the menu included more traditional Japanese appetizers like cucumber salad and pickled cabbage (yum).

They also had this amazing spice blend which I used to give my spicy tuna rolls a bit more of a kick. It was so good that I even started sprinkling it on the pickled cabbage. Anyway, I went to the Asian market on a mission for this spice. But when I was there I thought it would be the perfect time to pick up some things I could use to make a dish for my friend's potluck later that night.

I decided on making a Japanese inspired noodle salad with soba noodles, tons of vegetables, sesame seeds and a dressing made from miso paste. There was a whole lot of chopping involved in this salad, but I would argue that it is very much worth it.

This salad is also so versatile. You could easily add tofu or shredded chicken or beef to give it some more protein. Or add different ingredients to the very basic sauce such as ginger, honey, lime juice, crushed peanuts etc.

Japanese Noodle Salad

When I originally made this salad I went a little crazy with the toasted sesame seeds and added what I thought was too many, so in the recipe below I have taken down the measurement a fair amount.


10 oz soba noodles*
1/3 head napa cabbage, shredded (regular green cabbage would work as well)
1 tablespoon peanut oil or vegetable oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped or shredded
1 1/2 cups broccoli, chopped small
1 1/2 tablespoons miso paste
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1- 2 tablespoons water
3 stalks scallions, thinly sliced (white end removed)
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds, toasted

Bring about 8 cups of salted water to a boil in a large pot, once boiling, add soba noodles and cook about 5 minutes until desired consistency is reached. Two minutes into boiling add chopped cabbage to the water with noodles to blanch.

Drain the noodle and cabbage mixture and add peanut oil to the empty pot. When oil is heated, over medium high heat, add the rest of the vegetables: broccoli and carrot first because they cook the slowest, and bell pepper right at the end. Once the vegetables are cooked but still crunchy remove from heat and pour into the colander with noodle and cabbage mixture. Run under cold water until cool then transfer to a large bowl.

Mix miso paste, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and water in a small bowl until miso paste dissolves. Add sauce mixture into bowl with noodle/vegetable mixture and mix until everything is coated. Garnish with scallions and toasted sesame seeds.

~A little Orange House Spice, which I just found out is called shichimi togarashi (more on that here) sprinkled on to will give this salad some welcome heat.

*Japanese buckwheat noodles, should be available at an Asian market or international grocery store

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