Busy busy busy busy bzzzzz. That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. Juggling work deadlines and freelance projects, yoga class and happy hour, dinners with friends and family. Feeling busy can be overwhelming at times, but I feel unusually energized by my full calendar. I’d guess that the spring in my step comes from connecting with a few more friends in this new city. It’s nice to feel more connected with the community at large.
This recipe exemplifies how I eat when I’m busy, or really, how I eat all the time. I’m generally only feeding myself, so it’s hard to justify pulling out all the stops for every meal. I like to keep a big bowl of leftovers in the fridge and find that I’m only motivated to cook again once I’ve emptied it. It begs mentioning that I’ve consumed almost every serving of every recipe on this blog. In other words, these are dishes that I’ve tasted for days in a row and believe are worthy of being cooked in your kitchen.
The idea for this recipe came to me when I was dining at Masu Sushi & Robata in Minneapolis. My friend Grace ordered an appetizer of sliced cucumbers smothered in a delicious sesame-ginger sauce. They paired wonderfully together. As I was ordering my soba noodles, I wondered why I hadn’t tried mixing ginger into my favorite tahini dressing recipe, and this recipe was born.
This recipe is a flexible one and I’ve left room in the instructions for you to adjust it to taste. Feel free to toss in additional vegetables, like carrot ribbons (sliced with a vegetable peeler), chopped bell pepper or whatever strikes your fancy. If you love the creamy sauce, you might also like this peanut soba noodle bowl. If you prefer a lighter sauce, try my colorful soba noodle & raw veggie salad. It’s a popular one that would go over well at a fourth of July potluck.
- 8 ounces soba noodles (about 2 bundles)
- 1 large or 2 small English cucumbers
- 1 bunch scallions (green onions), chopped (about ¾ cup chopped)
- ⅓ cup tahini
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon white miso (optional)
- 2 teaspoons reduced sodium tamari or soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- handful fresh cilantro, chopped
- pinch red pepper flakes
- ⅓ to ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (preferably black)
- sea salt, to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the soba noodles until al dente, according to package directions (do not overcook them!). Drain and rinse under cold water.
- Use a chef's knife, or better yet, a julienne peeler, to slice the cucumber into long, skinny strips. Toss the super seedy inside strips. Then you can slice the remainder into 3-inch long strips (as shown) or leave them long.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, rice vinegar, ginger, miso, tamari/soy sauce, sesame oil, cilantro and red pepper flakes. Once blended, whisk in water until you reach your desired consistency.
- Toss the soba noodles in the sesame-ginger sauce (depending on how saucy you like your noodles, you may have some sauce left over). Toss in the cucumber strips, scallions, sesame seeds and extra cilantro if desired. Season to taste with salt or additional tamari until the flavors really sing. Serve immediately.
- Two tools worth owning: a Microplane for finely grating ginger (and citrus zest, chocolate, and Parmesan), and a julienne peeler for slicing long strips of cucumber (and apples, shoestring potatoes, etc.).
- On leftovers: if your leftovers are watery, blame the cucumbers. Pour off some of the extra liquid and punch up the flavor with a light drizzle of sesame sauce and tamari/soy sauce.
- Leftover sesame-ginger sauce would make a light vegetable dip for carrots and bell pepper strips.
- If you have leftover ginger, freeze it whole. When you're ready to grate it for a dish, pull off a frozen chunk and grate it against a Microplane. No need to peel it, as the skin will stay on the top side of the Microplane.
- Spice up this dish with chili garlic sauce or sriracha if you'd like.