I have made this recipe twice so far, and I already know it’s going to be a regular in my repertoire. This soba noodle dish is perfect for a warm evening, or any time you want something healthy, not too difficult, and super tasty. You only need to marinate the salmon for a little while, then boil the noodles, slice the cucumbers and scallions, grill the salmon, and put it all together.
I found this recipe on the Food 52 site – one of my favourite sites because they have so many recipes, and everything I’ve tried has been delicious. The original recipe called for cedar-planked salmon – I’m sure that I’m missing out, and I may never know exactly what I’m missing out on, but . . . I’m probably never going to buy cedar planks to make this – I just grilled mine on foil (and now that I’ve bought a copper grill mat I don’t have to use non-usable tin foil again). If you don’t have a bbq you could pan fry or bake the salmon; it might just be missing that faint smoky taste and smell, but will still be awesome.
I made my own mirin, which was really easy to do. The stuff I found in the store was either really expensive, or didn’t seem to be a very good quality. The homemade version might not be cheaper because you have to buy a bottle of sake to make it, but I think it tastes a lot better.
Here are some tips for using ginger: First, I recently had a revelation about the quality of ginger – those great big roots we typically find in the grocery store are really woody, and the flavour and texture of the smaller or newer crop ginger is so much better. So when I find the small kind, which is usually an expensive organic type, I buy a whack of it and put it in the freezer. Whenever I need some I have it on hand, and I just use the finest grater I have to shred whatever amount of the frozen ginger that I need for the recipe. It grates much easier after freezing! It’s taken me a while to figure this out, and this has been a really helpful discovery.
And one note on the sesame seeds – in order to benefit from the nutrients in the seeds you really need to crush them; we can’t digest the whole seeds. So I like to crush most of them, then use a few extra to scatter on top of the dish to make it look pretty. You can do this in a spice grinder, with a mortar and pestle, or just squish them with a heavy pot on top of a cutting board. When you crush them you also get more of a sesame flavour, so keep that in mind when deciding how much to add.
This portion would easily serve four people, but it’s easy to halve the recipe if you’re feeding two. It was good the next day for lunch too!
Because I like to add extra veg to my meals, another time I made this I added grilled gai lan on the side. Bok choi would also be great.
What you need:
- 280 grams/10 ounces wild salmon fillets
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons ginger (grated finely)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 170 grams/6 ounces soba noodles
- 1 English cucumber, or several of the smaller onest
- 6 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, most crushed, some whole for garnish
- 1 lime, optional
What you do:
- Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, ginger, sugar, and crushed pepper flakes. Place the salmon in a shallow dish and pour about 1/4 cup of the marinade (the rest will be the dressing) over the salmon. Flip the salmon so that the skin is facing up, then cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
- Preheat the grill to high. Boil a large pot of water to cook the soba noodles. Follow the instructions on the package (mine took about 7 minutes). Drain the noodles, then place them in a bowl of cold water until they have cooled off.
- Remove the salmon from the marinade and grill it skin side down for about 5 minutes. Make sure not to overcook it – you can put a knife in it to test if it’s done and not worry about it looking bad because you’re going to break it apart for serving anyways. When the salmon is done let it rest off the grill for 5 minutes.
- Once the noodles have cooled, drain them and place them in a large bowl.
- Slice the cucumbers as thinly as you can – I just used a vegetable peeler to do this, and it was really efficient for a thin uniform slice. Place the soba noodles, cucumber, scallions, sesame seeds and some of the dressing in the bowl. Give it all a good toss, adding more dressing if you need it, and some freshly squeezed lime if you wish.
- Once the salmon has cooled, remove the skin and break the fish into small pieces. You can either mix the salmon into the noodles or put it on top. Garnish with some sesame seeds.
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