We love a simple, vegetarian recipe. And this cold soba noodle creation from Megan McCulloch gets high marks not only for its bold flavor but also for its layers and layers of aphrodisiac ingredients.
Cold soba with a date night twist
Megan used to run a website called Aphro Cuisine. The site specialized in creative recipes that walked the line between health and hedonism. For this soba noodles recipe, she partnered up slippery, Japanese noodles with aphrodisiacs including honey, mint, garlic, mango, avocado and cashew nuts. As you can see, practically every ingredient in this recipe is an aphrodisiac.
A vegetarian noodle bowl for two
But not only is Megan a natural at inventing aphrodisiac recipes, she knows how how to combine textures to make a vegetarian dish that involves all the senses. There’s the inviting, nutty aroma of sesame oil combine with the faint, clean note of cilantro. There’s the sharp contrast of colors from the mango, soba noodles and vibrant mint and cucumber. And then, there’s the textures. We love this cold soba noodle recipe’s combination of slippery, soft, crunchy, slurp-able, these soba noodles for two really showcases the sensuality of eating.
Comments Megan, “Silky–delicate–satisfyingly wholesome–it is sweet in all the right places, crunchy, fresh, zesty and herbaceous; scandalously blending Thai and Japanese flavors. Unorthodox, you say?–All the better.”
Stocking your pantry with the Asian ingredients needed for this soba recipe
Some of the ingredients Megan calls for in her soba salad are ones you might not regularly stock in your kitchen. For starters, sesame oil features in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines, it isn’t as common in a Western kitchen. This vegetable oil, extracted from sesame seeds, offers a much more full bodied aroma and flavor that most cooking oils.
What is mirin?
Mirin is another ingredient foreign to many Western kitchens. Mirin is a Japanese alcohol, similar to sake only lower in alcohol and a bit sweeter. It is often (incorrectly) called rice wine. However, the definition of wine is a beverage made from fermented fruit. But because mirin is fermented from a grain, it is technically more like a beer than a wine. According to Bon Appetit, if you don’t have mirin on hand, you can substitute with dry white wine mixed with 1/2 tsp sugar for every tablespoon of mirin. (Please note that we’ve never tried this substitution ourselves.)
What are soba noodles?
Lastly, there’s the signature ingredient of this soba noodle bowl. You’ve probably heard of soba. You may have even cooked with these Japanese noodles before. But you may not know exactly what distinguishes these from other noodles. Soba noodles ingredients are a little different from Italian noodles.
Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour and a small percentage of whole wheat flour. You’ll recognize noodles as having a high percentage of buckwheat flour by their color. These buckwheat noodles will have a dark grey color. True artisan soba noodles are typically sold fresh. However, you can find dried soba sold with the other noodles in Asian markets and most grocery stores.
Soba Noodle Salad for Two
For the soba:
- 2/3 cup soba noodles, packed if it is one of those cute little thrice divided packages they come in
- roughly 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds black or white
- 1 tbsp cashew or other nuts (peanuts macadamias, etc) – roasted and salted and roughly chopped
- 1 medium avocado – diced or sliced
- 1 medium mango – finely sliced
- 1 Persian cucumber
- small handful mint shredded
- small handful cilantro leaves
For the sauce
- 2 cloves garlic finely diced
- 1 tbsp ginger – finely gated
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 tsp sesame oil
- 4 tbsp Mirin
- 1 tbsp honey
- Submerge soba in a pot of boiling water.
- Boil for about 4 minutes or until slightly al dente. (Keep a close watch as they are easy to overcook.)
- Drain and rinse thoroughly in cold water.
- Set aside to completely drain for a minute then spread the cooled noodles out on paper towels to dry. Top with a second towel and pat dry. (If you skip this step, the sauce will not take to the soba and you will find yourself facing a super sloppy and less flavorful bowl of soba.)
- While the soba is drying, make the sauce by whisking together the garlic through Mirin. Add the honey and, if too thick, add 1/2 tsp hot water to thin the honey.
- In a mixing bowl, toss the soba with the sauce and sesame seeds.
- Divide the soba between two plates and garnish with the cashew (or other nuts), avocado, mango, cucumber, mint and cilantro.
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