Thumbing through the pages of exquisite photography in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty is a task in and of itself. But, when I saw the headline – Soba Noodles with Wakame – I stopped because I love soba noodles. I was also intrigued by wakame, a sea vegetable farmed in Japan, dried and exported. It’s the seaweed that is most often served in miso soup. This is what it looks like dried:
I love seaweed, but rarely do I cook with it, so recently I picked up some wakame from the market. I was missing a few ingredients to make Ottolenghi’s recipe verbatim, but it didn’t matter. Using his recipe as guidance developed a proportionate concoction of salty, spicy, sweet and tangy Asian flavors that coated the Japanese buckwheat noodles.
Find Yotam Ottolenghi’s original recipe here. Below is the adaptation I used:
1 large seedless cucumber
2 teaspoon salt
1 package of Soba noodles (I cooked one package, but withheld roughly 25% of the cooked noodles to make sure I’d have enough sauce – I would recommend this, or go ahead and double the sauce recipe, you can always serve it for another night over cabbage for an Asian slaw. The sauce is so good I wanted to drink it.)
Half package of wakame (Ottolenghi’s recipe calls for 2 ounces; the package I found was 1.7 ounces and because I didn’t use the whole pound of soba, I chose to use about 60% of the package’s contents. I love seaweed, but I wanted the emphasis to be on the noodles not on the seaweed. Unless you’re a huge wakame fan, I would recommend using about 1 ounce of the dried product and reserving the rest for another meal.)
For the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- grated zest of 1 lime
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger (though, dried ginger might be sufficient depending on your taste for the root.)
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha (or, use chopped dried chilies depending on your spice preference.)
- 1 tablespoon sugar (I used Florida cane sugar which is a little darker than white sugar; but I’m sure either would be fine.)
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- ½ teaspoon salt
- handful of fresh mint
- handful of fresh cilantro
- one shallot
Shred the cucumbers using a mandolin. Or, I used a large-slotted cheese grater (see below):
Ottolenghi instructs to drain the cucumber shreds with salt for thirty minutes to remove excess water. If you use a seedless cucumber, you may find that this step isn’t necessary. Add the noodles to a pot of boiling water to cook for five minutes depending on packet instructions. Once drained I ran cool water over them to stop the cooking and then tossed them with chili oil to keep them from sticking as they dried.
For ten minutes, soak the wakame in warm water. Be sure to double the amount of soaking water as it will expand almost twice in size. Drain, add them to the cucumber shreds and noodles.
Mix the ingredients for the sauce and pour over the noodles. To garnish: I used a handful of fresh mint, cilantro and one thinly sliced shallot for a crunchy texture.
I tried a version of the recipe again with mung bean threads instead of soba noodles. Will post soon about that experience. Happy slurping!
And so I sat with my bowl, happily splattering the sauce about my face as I slurped in the tangy noodles.