Green Tea or Soba Noodle Salad

With Fried Tofu, Mushrooms, Smoked Paprika, Cumin Almonds, Pak Choy, Wasabi Mirin Dressing

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Preparation info

    • Difficulty

      Complex

Appears in

Salads

Salads

By Peter Gordon

Published 2005

  • About

Green tea and soba noodles are nutty firm noodles from Japan. The former are made from wheat with added powdered green tea, and the latter can be either a mixture of wheat and buckwheat or 100 per cent buckwheat. I prefer the mixed-grain soba noodle, as the pure buckwheat noodle can be quite brittle and almost crunchy.

The tofu here is the same type and cooked in much the same way as in the recipe. Mirin is Japanese rice wine used only for cooking and is nowadays widely available in better supermarkets.

Ingredients

  • 100 g blanched almonds
  • 1 teaspoon pimenton (smoked paprika, either dulce or picante – you choose)
  • 1 teaspoon icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons roasted sesame oil
  • salt
  • 150 g noodles (dry weight, see above)
  • 200 g firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 300 g mushrooms (any type or a mixture)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 400 g pak choy (bok choy), leaves separated
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced and rinsed under cold running water for 2 minutes

For the Wasabi Mirin Dressing

  • 1 teaspoon (or more or less to taste) wasabi paste
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 3 tablespoons light salad oil (grapeseed, light olive or sunflower)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 170°C, gas 3½ and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Mix the almonds with the pimenton, icing sugar, cumin and sesame seeds, and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil. Lay on the lined baking tray and bake until golden, 10–15 minutes, tossing from time to time as they cook. Tip out on to a plate and leave to cool, then roughly chop.

Bring a very large pot half-filled with lightly salted water to the boil. Add the noodles and, after 30 seconds, give them a stir. Bring back to the boil, then add a cupful of cold water to ‘shock’ the noodles, and cook until al dente. Drain in a colander and refresh under cold running water and drain again. The reason you need to use a large pot is that these noodles often ‘foam up’ and boil over.

Slice the tofu into pieces 1.5 cm thick and lay on a double thickness of kitchen paper to absorb excess water (and there will be a fair bit). Press more paper on top and gently press down with your hands. Leave for 10 minutes, replacing the paper if you need to. Gently coat the slices all over with the flour. Heat a frying pan and add a few millimetres of oil, then cook the tofu on both sides to colour it golden. Remove to a plate.

Depending on your mushrooms, you can either keep them whole or slice them if they’re large. Heat a little more cooking oil with the remaining sesame oil and sauté the mushrooms to soften them. Then add the soy sauce and take off the heat – you want them still to have a little bite.

Blanch the pak choy by plunging it into boiling water for 30 seconds, then drain and refresh.

Make the wasabi mirin dressing, whisk the wasabi paste into the vinegar and mirin, then whisk in the oil and season it.

To Serve

Mix the noodles with a little of the dressing and divide between 4 plates. Toss the mushrooms with the pak choy and sit this on top, then place pieces of the tofu on that, drizzle the remaining dressing over, then sprinkle over the almonds and spring onions.