Sunday, December 6, 2009

Asparagus & Green-Tea Soba Noodle Salad

By now I think you all know about my love for fresh asparagus - I just never seem to tire of it. My beloved however doesn't share my passion for this spring treasure (he's more of a broccoli guy), so while he's been away this week I have been totally indulging my every asparagus whim. I've been cooking up dishes in which the asparagus is "the hero" - taking centre stage rather than being "the bit on the side" that I usually have. This asparagus and noodle salad, adapted from The Wagamama Cookbook, is one of my old favourites. It's also very adaptable - I have made this using broccolini instead of asparagus on occasions, and I imagine it would also be fantastic with the addition of prawns if you wanted something special and not entirely vegetarian.

This is the perfect summer salad - light, healthy, crunchy and tangy - enjoy.

Asparagus & Green-Tea Soba Noodle Salad Recipe
Click here for printable copy of this recipe

Vegetarian, gluten-free*
Makes 2 generous servings
(adapted from a recipe in The Wagamama Cookbook)

Salad ingredients:
Piece of daikon (Japanese radish) about 4" long, peeled
1 small carrot, peeled
90g green-tea soba noodles*
90g plain soba/buckwheat noodles*
1/2 red pepper
1 red chilli
1 bunch asparagus
2 handfuls of mung bean sprouts
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
handful of baby spinach
small bunch coriander, chopped

Dressing ingredients:
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1" piece fresh ginger, peeled & grated
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
100ml vegetable oil

First make the dressing - simply combine all the ingredients in a screw top jar, give it a good shake and set aside. This will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator.

Begin the salad by shredding the daikon and carrot into long, fine strands - I use one of those wide blade peelers that has a shredder on the opposite side (you can see it in the picture). If you don't have a suitable shredder or tool for doing this, cut into the longest, finest juliennes that you can manage. Then put the daikon and carrot strands into a bowl of cold water and ice, and refrigerate for at least an hour until crisp.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles in boiling water - they will only take 2-3 minutes - drain and refresh under cold running water. Set aside.

Remove the seeds from the red pepper, and cut into thinnish strips. Remove the seeds and membrane from the chilli, and slice.

Drain the now crisp daikon and carrot. Mix with the noodles, red pepper and chilli, and 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing. Season with salt and set aside on serving platter or bowl.

Heat a griddle pan until smoking. Toss the asparagus spears with a little of the oil and salt, and cook on the griddle for a few minutes until lightly charred. Remove from heat and cut spears in half. Similarly now toss the bean sprouts in a little oil and salt and add to the griddle. Give them a couple of minutes, turning them occasionally, then add the spinach. Almost immediately after adding the spinach turn off the heat. The spinach will begin to wilt in the residual heat, and once it has just wilted remove.

Add the asparagus, bean sprouts and spinach to the rest of the salad. Toss lightly to combine, and sprinkle chopped coriander over the top.


* I say gluten-free here because soba noodles are traditionally made from buckwheat flour which, as I understand it, is gluten-free. However, the packets of soba noodles I had both contained wheat flour as well as buckwheat flour, so check ingredients carefully if this is important to you. You could substitute with any wheat-free noodles.

* If you can't find green-tea soba noodles (though these are pretty much available in most supermarkets and Asian specialty stores now), you can cook plain noodles in boiling green tea.