Sesame Noodles with Cucumber

This is the second time I’ve made these noodles and I just love them (thank you Smitten Kitchen!). We had them last night with some grilled salmon, they make a perfect side dish especially during these hot days. I haven’t cooked with Soba noodles for so long and I don’t know why because I’m crazy about them, they don’t seem to overwhelm me the way a flour pasta can, there’s something good in that buckwheat! They’re a healthy alternative to traditional pasta and, I’m not big on the gluten-free craze, but they are gluten-free. I found a nice post on how to cook Soba noodles over at Food 52, it recommended not only rinsing the noodles when they’re done, but tossing them in a cold water bath as well to help remove the starch. I did that this time and I think it works well. The recipe is near perfect, although I wish the sauce wasn’t so thick, it takes quite a bit of tossing to really integrate with the noodles, maybe more rice vinegar and sesame oil? And possibly a splash of fish sauce would work as well, I’m so scared of fish sauce, I don’t know why because when I eat Thai food that has fish sauce I don’t notice it all and it really pumps up the flavors. Oh, and you can make this ahead and refrigerate, it tastes just as good the next day! 

Sesame Noodles with Cucumber

  • 9 ounces Soba Noodles
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, plus a splash to loosen noodles
  • 2 tablespoons Tahini (see note up top)
  • 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated or brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (from 1 medium-large clove)
  • 2-3 teaspoons Chili-garlic paste (I used 3 teaspoons which gave it just a little bit of heat)
  • 1/2 pound cucumber, very thinly sliced or julienned 
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • A handful of chopped fresh herbs, such as mint and cilantro, for garnish

Place Soba noodles in pot of boiling water and let simmer for about 5 minutes, taste for doneness, they should be firm but cooked and not too mushy, rinse under cold water and toss in large bowl with cold water, rinse again and drain, then place in bowl and toss with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil to keep them from sticking, allow to cool. 

Meanwhile, whisk tahini and peanut butter in a small bowl, then whisk in soy sauce, rice vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, sugar, ginger, garlic and chile-garlic paste until smooth. Adjust flavors to taste. Toss sauce with cold noodles. Top with crushed peanuts, cucumber and cilantro.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen