This is one of my favourite recipes from my cookbook, and I make it at least once a week. (Last Monday I made a big platter of it for a socially-distanced lunch in the garden with Anne.)
This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase, and mention of press trips to Cornwall, and to Japan when I was hosted as a journalist.
Although this cold buckwheat noodle salad is Japanese in origin, it always reminds me of St Mawes in Cornwall, where my friend, Hannah, first made it for our lunch when we were on holiday at Dreamcatchers – the MOST incredible rental house – one summer. She had brought the ingredients down from London, but the idea of cold noodles was somewhat off putting, when I could almost smell the baked-that-morning pasties from the St Mawes Bakery down the road.
The first mouthful converted me absolutely: the combination of the crunch of the vegetables, with the sharpness of the lime and vinegar, the soft, slippery noodles and the creamy nuttiness of the peanut butter is addictive. So thank you Hannah for reminding me to taste before I judge…
It’s a great picnic salad, as it is quite robust, has no melting ingredients, and the acidity is refreshing. (I made it for this lovely evening picnic last summer in Battersea Park.)
A note on soba noodles
I learnt to make soba noodles with soba master Akira Inoue in his Tokyo kitchen studio back in 2015, but these days I buy my soba from the supermarket. If you are gluten-free, read the packet carefully as although buckwheat is GF, many packaged soba noodles also contain wheat.
Making the recipe vegan
If you are vegan make sure you use an alternative to honey: I suggest agave in the ingredients, but you could even use corn syrup or golden syrup in a pinch.
1 red pepper
2 spring onions
200g firm golden tofu
200g soba noodles
For the peanut & lime dressing:
130g smooth peanut butter
juice of ½ lime
1 tbsp rice vinegar
a 1 cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 tbsp honey, OR agave nectar for vegans
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
To garnish: a small handful of chopped coriander
Cook the soba noodles in plenty of boiling water, according to packet instructions, drain immediately, and rinse in cold water again and again until the noodles have given up as much starch as possible, and are in no danger of clumping together. Spread them out on a plate, and put to one side.
Julienne (cut into very thin strips) the peppers and the spring onions, including the green parts.
If you have a food processor, grate the carrot on the finest disc, else julienne with a sharp knife.
Roughly chop the peanuts, and cut the tofu into thin strips, to your liking.
Combine all the vegetables, chopped peanuts, and tofu in a mixing bowl.
Pour all the dressing ingredients in a bowl, and whisk together. If the peanut butter is very thick you may want to add a little boiling water to loosen it.
Place the drained noodles in a shallow serving dish or platter, and gently mix with half the dressing. Add all the vegetables and the peanuts, along with the rest of the dressing. Garnish with the chopped herbs.