Soba noodles are a terrific, versatile ingredient. They are Japanese in orgin, and are made from a mixture of buckwheat flour and wheat flour. Sometimes wild yam is also added. Soba noodles have a darker color and heartier flavor than traditional wheat and rice noodles, which also work perfectly in this dish. Using a thin rice noodle would be more traditional to the South East Asian flavors of the other ingredients in the recipe, but I like the additional nutrition and flavor that soba noodles offer.
Buckwheat itself is native to Russia, and the so called grain is actually the seed to the buckwheat plant which is weed like and related to rhubarb. Buckwheat is grown all over as a crop cover to replenish lost nutrients in soil. It thrives is cold climates. The sprouted greens are quite nutritious as well and make a great addition to any salad. They have a very mild, earthy flavor. The grain is very substantial and will fill you up fast. It also digests slowly, so is wonderful for anyone suffering from blood sugar imbalances. Buckwheat is particularly high thiamine, riboflavin, and other B-complex vitamins. It is also high in calcium and phosphorus, as well as other minerals, and boasts quite a high lysine content (6.1%), which is greater than any other cereal grain. Buckwheat is also considered a good blood builder, removes toxic wastes from the body, and is good for the kidneys.
Soba noodles can be used in many different preparations other than this salad. They are great anywhere that a rice noodle or wheat noodle would be used in any Asian inspired dish. I particularly love them in a hot broth with fresh basil, cilantro, and jalapeno slivers added right at the end, finished with a squirt of lime. Very tasty! For the salad, make sure your mung bean sprouts and herbs are as fresh as possible. I love mint and cilantro, but any kind of basil would also be fantastic in this dish. I use shoyu in this recipe, which is an unpasteurized, naturally fermented soy sauce, but you can use low-sodium soy sauce if you like. I also use agave nectar (a syrup made from the same plant as tequila) because of its neutral flavor and low impact on blood sugar levels. Agave can be found in any health food store or Trader Joe's, is an excellent substitute for sugar, and is much more of a whole food.
Lime and Peanut Bathed Soba Noodles
For this salad, slicing the raw vegetables thinly is very important. I suggest using a Benrinner mandolin, but a sharp knife will work just as well. I slice the carrots into thin planks on my mandolin, and them cut them into very fine strips with a sharp knife. You could also grate the carrots on a box grater, or even peel them into long strips with a wide peeler.
-6 oz dry soba noodles cooked according to package directions and cooled
-2 small cucumbers, sliced thinly into half moons
-2 small to medium sized carrots, peeled and cut into fine strips on a mandolin
-1 1/2 cups very fresh mung bean sprouts
-6 leaves crunchy lettuce such as romaine, sliced into thin strips
-1/2 cup cilantro leaves
-1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
-1/4 cup toasted and chopped peanuts (optional)
-1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
-1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
-1/2 teaspoon chili paste, or more to taste (I personally like more)
-3 tablespoons agave nectar
-2 tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)
-1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root
-1 clove garlic, minced fine
-3 to 4 tablespoons smooth, organic, natural peanut butter (use more if you like a thicker, fattier dressing).
To Make the Salad:
Combine the cooked and cooled soba noodles with all of the vegetables, but not the herbs. Combine well in a large bowl and set aside. To make the dressing, whisk together all ingredients until completely smooth. Taste to adjust seasoning with agave syrup, shoyu, and chili paste if desired. More shoyu means more saltiness, and agave more sweetness. Pour the dressing over the noodles and vegetables and toss to completely coat. Add in the fresh herbs. Remove the salad with tongs from the large bowl to a serving dish or tray. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts. Any dressing leftover in the bowl can be used on any other salad.