Soba noodle salad is a Japanese classic
Soba noodle salad is great served on a warm summer day! In Japan, soba noodles are most often served cold in a salad with a sesame/soy dressing or with a dashi dipping sauce on the side. This version of soba noodle salad has sautéed shiitake mushrooms, scallions, cilantro, and a dressing made of coconut aminos (my favorite alternative to soy sauce), sesame oil, rice vinegar, and a touch of fresh ginger. Toasted sesame seeds are sprinkled on top!
Make your Japanese dish beautiful
One thing to always remember when making a Japanese dish is to take care in how you plate it and garnish it. We eat first with our eyes, so making something beautiful makes it taste even better. Here I keep the garnishing simple with scallions and black sesame seeds.
When my husband lived in Japan he remembers a restaurant that served soba noodles with fresh, natural spring water to chill the hot noodles. One day we hope to go to Japan and eat at their amazing restaurants. In the restaurant below from Matsue, Japan, I love how they take such care to make the outdoor space so vibrant and beautiful.
7 easy steps for making soba noodle salad
- Boil soba noodles and cook until al dente. Drain and plunge into a bowl of cool (or iced) water and drain again.
- Prepare sesame dressing.
- Toast sesame seeds.
- Slice veggies and herbs.
- Sauté shiitake mushrooms until golden brown. Drizzle mushrooms with shoyu or coconut aminos.
- Put together salad. Combine noodles, veggies, and herbs (set aside a little cilantro and green onion for garnish). Drizzle on enough dressing just to coat noodles. Toss to combine.
- Serve noodle salad in individual bowls and garnish with cilantro, green onion, and toasted sesame seeds. Itadakimasu!
Vegan and gluten free if using a gluten free variety of noodles.
1 package soba noodles (2–3 bundles)*
water to cook noodles
ice water to cool off noodles (optional)
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
2 teaspoons untoasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon coconut aminos (or a few dashes soy sauce/shoyu)
1/2 bunch scallions or green onions, sliced thinly
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (tan or black), toasted (for garnish)
* Soba noodles are generally 80% buckwheat/20% wheat; you can also find GF varieties made with rice like King Soba brand.
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon good quality mirin (or 1/2 tablespoon honey or maple syrup)
2 tablespoons coconut aminos (or 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce/shoyu)
2 tablespoons sesame oil (toasted or untoasted), divided
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated finely
Prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl, which you can use to cool off the noodles once they are cooked and drained.
Heat a large pot of water over high heat until boiling. Add soba noodles and stir on and off for a minute or two to make sure the noodles do not stick to each other. After water has come back up to a boil, turn heat to low and simmer at a low boil until noodles are al dente. Drain and place noodles in ice water bath (it’s okay if ice has already melted; water will be very cold). Let stand until noodles have cooled, then drain well, dry off the bowl, and place noodles back into the bowl.
Heat sauté pan over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add sesame oil and swirl around to coat the pan. Add mushrooms in a single layer (you may need to do more than one batch if you pan is small) and let brown on one side before turning them over to brown on the other side. Remove mushrooms to a bowl or plate and drizzle with coconut aminos or soy sauce/shoyu. Repeat with remaining mushrooms if needed.
Add sautéed mushrooms, scallions, and cilantro to chilled soba noodles. Whisk together dressing ingredients in a separate bowl or glass measuring cup. Drizzle just enough dressing to lightly coat the noodles. Toss gently to combine. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
Add some colorful vegetables, sliced thinly, such as carrots (cut in matchsticks), red cabbage (shredded), and/or kale (destemmed and sliced into ribbons).
Add pan-fried tofu, cooked with garlic, ginger, and sesame oil and seasoned with soy sauce/shoyu/coconut aminos. Make sure it has cooled to room temperature, cut it into strips, and serve on top of the salad.