We have been serving our soba salad since we opened CIBI in 2008. When I created this dish, I wanted to add a touch of western flavor so that it became a cafe-like dish as well as a CIBI dish. Many of our regulars come in just for this salad. This is a simpler version that you can cook at home anytime. All you really need in your cupboard is soba noodles, soy sauce and lemon!
30 g (1 oz, or 10 x 10 cm / 4 x 4 in) Japanese bean curd
200 g (7 oz, about 2 bunches) dried soba noodles
2 handfuls mixed salad leaves
90 g (3 oz, around 6) cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 avocado, cubed
1 tablespoon finely chopped spring onion (scallion)
1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon tamari
100 g (3 1/2 oz) pitted green olives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive brine
juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. To make the olive relish, combine the olives, olive brine, lemon juice and oil in a bowl. Season with freshly ground black pepper to taste and mix well.
2. To make the soba dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl with 50 ml (1 3/4 fl oz) water and mix well.
3. Drain the bean curd and rinse it with hot water to remove any excess oil. Dry it lightly with paper towel. Pan-fry both sides in a frying pan over a low–medium heat until light brown and crispy. Remove it from the pan and let it cool, then slice it into 1 x 5 cm (1/2 x 2 in) rectangles.
4. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the soba noodles and cook, following the packet instructions, until they are just al dente. Drain the noodles and run them under cold water to stop the cooking process and wash off excess gluten. This will help give the noodles a nice texture.
5. Arrange the salad leaves on plates.
6. In a large bowl, combine the noodles, tomatoes, avocado, bean curd, spring onion, sesame seeds and dressing and mix well. Top the salad on each plate with a helping of the noodle mixture. Garnish each with 1 teaspoon of the olive relish and serve the rest of the relish on the side.
Recipe excerpted with permission from CIBI by Meg and Zenta Tanaka, published by Hardie Grant Books November 2018.
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