Japanese soba salad with pickled mushrooms

I still salivate when I think of the food I ate during a trip to Japan five years ago. It opened my eyes to a world beyond sushi and teppan-yaki. Somewhere in a small corner of Kyoto, I had the most delicately prepared, fresh and flavourful soba noodle salad. I won’t even pretend that this rendition does that dish justice, but it is a delicious summery meal that’s super easy to prepare and naturally gluten-free.

Japanese soba salad with pickled mushrooms

For the quick pickled mushrooms
  • 1 TBSP x dark miso paste
  • 1/4 cup x apple cider vinegar
  • A thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup x sake
  • 1 cup x water
  • 150 g x fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
For the salad
  • 1/2 x cucumber
  • 200 g x 100% buckwheat soba noodles
  • 2 TBSP x sesame oil
  • 1 TBSP x tamari
  • 2 x organic, free-range eggs
  • 2 handfuls x sprouts (I used purple sango radish sprouts here)
  • Handful of spring onions, finely chopped
  • Handful x pickles of your choice. I used radish, made according to this recipe
  • 2 x nori sheets, torn into shreds or cut into quarters
  • Sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds
  • Sprinkling of matcha powder (optional)

Instructions

Serves 2

First, quickly pickle the mushrooms by bringing the miso, vinegar, ginger, sake and water to a gentle boil in a small pot, whisking as you go to break down the miso. Once the mixture is boiling, add the mushrooms and stir to cover them in the liquid. Remove from the heat and leave the mushrooms and liquid to cool down.

Create cucumber ribbons by peeling strips of the flesh (and skin if you're fine using it; I do) vertically. Once you get to the core, switch sides. You'll be left with the watery middle, which I freeze (a tip from my foodie crush Anna Jones) and add to my water bottle during the summer for cucumbery freshness. Set the cucumber ribbons aside.

Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions. I usually go 1 minute below the recommendation so they're slightly more al dente. Bring a second pot filled with plenty of water to the boil for the eggs.

When the noodles are done, rinse under cold water, then drain. Grab two individual serving bowls and place half the noodles and half the cucumber in each. Drizzle each with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and 1/2 tablespoon of tamari, then toss to combine.

Once the water for the eggs has come to a rolling boil, carefully use a spoon to place the eggs in the pot. Cook for 6 minutes, then plunge into cold water. Once the eggs are cool enough to handle, peel and cut in half.

Drain the mushrooms, keeping their soaking liquid to the side for later. Place half the mushrooms in each serving bowl, and top with the sprouts, spring onions and pickles. Tuck the nori into the side or use as a garnish. Finish with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds and a touch of matcha, if you like.

Pour over 1/4 cup of the reserved mushroom liquid to start with, keeping the rest at the table if you want to add more later. If not, it'll keep in the fridge for a few days and can be used as a dressing for other Asian-style salads.

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