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Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Asian slaw and soba noodle salad

My office is located in a desert. A lunch desert. We do have a few nearby options but upon closer inspection, I've realized that they're more akin to a mirage than the lunchtime oasis I long for. I have grown to hate soggy chicken avocado wraps and limp spinach salad with the white hot intensity of the scorching desert sun. This slaw and soba noodle salad is the latest result of my efforts to create healthy, delicious, home made meals that I can enjoy at work all week. The recipe makes a big batch so it would also be great for a pot luck.

Soba noodles are a variety of Japanese noodle that are made with buckwheat flour. Buckwheat is actually a seed, not a grain, and is more nutritionally dense than wheat or rice flour. It's high in protein and amino acids and is great for lowering cholesterol and boosting your metabolism. However, be sure to read the label when you're buying them as some brands actually have very little buckwheat in them and contain lots of wheat flour as a binder. I've seen some as low as 5% buckwheat. For those in Ontario, Loblaws sells a brand called Sobaya that is 30% buckwheat. I've also come across the Eden Organic brand which is 100% buckwheat.

Of course if you just want the slaw, you can omit the noodles altogether. You'll probably end up with more dressing than you need but you can store any extra in the fridge for later.

Other optional garnishes and additions: Sriracha hot sauce, sweet chili sauce, chopped almonds or peanuts, chopped cucumber, shelled edamame (lightly blanched), enoki mushrooms, thinly sliced mango, shredded or grilled chicken, sauteed shrimp.


1 tbsp almond butter (peanut butter is okay too as long as it's the kind without added sugar)
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp cider vinegar (if you don't have it just use more rice wine vinegar)
2 tsp honey
pinch of red chili flakes
juice of 1/2 lemon


1 340 gram package shredded cabbage
1/2 340 gram package shredded carrot
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups snow peas
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 package soba noodles

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a large measuring cup or bowl. Whisk together until everything is well combined.

Combine the bell peppers, cabbage, carrot, snow peas, cilantro, green onions, and sesame seeds in a large bowl. Drizzle most of the dressing over the slaw but reserve about 1/4 cup for the noodles.

Cook soba noodles in boiling salted water. I usually cook them a minute or two less than the package directions otherwise I find they turn to mush. Drain the cooked noodles and rinse for a minute or so under cold water. I can't stress the importance of this step enough. If you don't rinse the noodles you will end up with a hot, starchy mass and it won't be fun to eat. Transfer the noodles to a separate bowl, drizzle with a little of the dressing and toss to coat.

To serve, combine the noodles and a big spoonful of slaw in a shallow bowl. The proportions are really up to your taste but I like about a 1/3 cup of noodles and 3/4 cup of slaw. Also be sure to store any leftovers separately in the fridge as this will keep the noodles from getting too soft.


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